WATFORD, England, Sep 11 (Reuters) England have so many quality players that reaching the quarter-finals of major tournaments is no longer good enough, midfielder Steven Gerrard said.
Although far from assured of even reaching the Euro 2008 finals, England's odds of winning the tournament were reduced to 8-1 by bookmakers Paddy Power after a convincing 3-0 win over Israel in their qualifier at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
England are third in Group E but will move above Russia into second place behind leaders Croatia if they beat the Russians at Wembley tomorow.Gerrard echoed the view of the bookmakers when he told reporters at a briefing at the team hotel yesterday: ''This is the best England squad I have been involved in since I started with England in 2000.
''The most important thing is for the players to do the talking on the pitch but it is obvious when I am training and playing with these players we have the quality.
''We have under-achieved of late and we need to deliver for this country. I think with the quality we've got here, I don't think the quarter-finals is enough. We should be doing better.'' LAST EIGHT England have not got past the last eight in any competition since the semi-finals of Euro'96, which was staged in England.
They reached the quarter-finals of three successive tournaments under previous coach Sven-Goran Eriksson -- the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004 and the World Cup in 2006.
Before that they went out in the second round of the 1998 World Cup and failed to get past the group stage at Euro 2000.
The only major honour England have won is the 1966 World Cup.
Gerrard noted that Saturday's victory over Israel was a big improvement on their recent performances, saying: ''I hope we are seeing the start of a new England team emerging.
''There is no point in me sitting here saying that is the turning point and we are going to play great in the future.
''We've got to go out and prove that but Saturday was certainly a positive performance. The game against Russia on Wednesday is going to be a lot more difficult, we understand that, but we have the players to do very well.'' Croatia top the group with 20 points from eight matches followed by Russia on 18. England are level on 17 points with Israel who have played one game more.REUTERS BJR AS1003