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Hunger and hurt driving England

Written by: Staff
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FRANKFURT, June 5: Hunger and hurt will be the driving forces behind England when the nearly men of 2002 open their World Cup bid in Germany this week.

A Group B campaign starting on Saturday against Paraguay gives England a chance to make up for missed opportunities and missing players when they bowed out to eventual champions Brazil in the quarter-finals in Japan.

The hurt is keenly felt by Frank Lampard, who failed to make the squad in 2002, but also by fellow midfielder Steven Gerrard and defender Gary Neville who both missed out with injuries.

Lampard's remarkable rise in the game has helped Chelsea win consecutive Premier League titles, while his goals for England have made him one of the first names on coach Sven-Goran Eriksson's team sheet.

''The last World Cup seems a million miles away to me, so much has happened,'' Lampard said.

But he added: ''I don't forget the hurt of not going. The fact that I am going to this one and hope to play a big part makes it all the more sweet.'' As for the bitter memory, he said: ''It does drive me on. It's such a disappointment and such a big thing to miss. I'm even more hungry.

''I feel this is a really good chance not just for me personally in this World Cup but for all of us to really make something special happen.'' For captain David Beckham, heading into probably his final World Cup at 31, the 2002 finals were overshadowed by a painful recovery from a foot injury.

The finals in Germany also follow a Euro 2004 campaign where Beckham believes the team did not do itself justice, going out to hosts Portugal in a quarter-final penalty shootout.

''Even players who did play in the last World Cup and in Portugal have a hunger to do better -- we believe we should have gone further in that competition,'' said Beckham.

''There are players coming into this one with a lot of hunger.

''Unfortunately, in the last couple of tournaments, we've had situations where we've had goals disallowed or things against us.

''It's not an excuse. If you win a competition it's because you're the best team. But one thing you learn along the way is that a decision or a split second can change a tournament.'' For Neville, whose tournament football started at Euro 96, Germany is a chance to put an end to the respectable performances at tournaments.

Fed up with the constant television coverage of England's last World Cup winners in 1966, Neville's feelings reflect those of an ambitious team's older guard.

''There's no good getting to a semi-final or a quarter-final,'' he said. ''It's a waste of time. You're wasting six or seven weeks.

We've got to get to that final and we've got to win it.''

REUTERS

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