Hart aiming to gain momentum from France test

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England goalkeeper Joe Hart believes a good start to Euro 2012 against France on Monday could set his side up for a successful tournament.

The Three Lions come into the European Championships with low expectations, with a late change of manager and several key injuries believed to have hurt their chances.

And they face many observers' outside bet for the tournament in Laurent Blanc's side, but Hart believes Les Bleus can be beaten.

He told Absolute Radio: [The game is] really important. We need to play well, we’re up against a very strong French side who have got some really talented players, but I think they could say the same thing about us. 

"We both need to start well and hopefully we’ll play the better on the night.”

The 25-year-old also insisted he does not think about his last international tournament, the 2010 World Cup, in which he failed to appear.

“The past is the past, there’s no point in thinking about that," he added.

"I’m going into this one, like you say, hopefully starting in a big game and hopefully being an important player for my country, so I’m lining it up as I would do most games, you’ve just got to try and enjoy it and try and do your best.”

The Manchester City keeper admitted that preparations have been more relaxed than they were for England’s campaign in South Africa two years ago, but insisted training has been just as intense.

He added: "We went to Austria and there was almost a process of elimination with the 30 man squad.  We’ve gone down a different route but equally as intense when we’ve been training, manager trying to get his ideas across, similar to last time.

"So without doing the same things it’s almost the same, going into a tournament, we’re trying to win it and we’re trying to do it the best way possible.”

Hart's team-mate Stewart Downing was a surprise inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s England squad, following a season in which he failed to net in the Premier League for his new side Liverpool.

However, he expressed excitement at being given the chance by the former West Brom boss after narrowly missing out on the last World Cup.

“I’m looking forward to it," he said.

"Obviously personally coming back from injury at Aston Villa, that was my aim, the World Cup. I tried to get in, I had six months to get fit, but obviously I missed out, so my aim was to get in this squad and now I’m here under a new manager, I need to impress and hopefully get a chance to play.”

The Liverpool winger is also targeting a starting place and is adamant he does not want to watch the tournament from the bench.

“I’d like to. I mean, I’m not here to make the numbers up and sit on the bench, I’m training, I’m training hard and well, so I’m hoping to start against France," he continued.

"I think I’ve got a good chance of starting, but obviously that’s up the manager, whichever way he’s thinking.”

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