England are under pressure to deliver in their opening Euro 2012 encounter against Bulgaria, admits Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool midfielder, and Three Lions skipper, is hoping Fabio Capello's men can hit the ground running at Wembley and make an early statement of intent.
"The players realise, and the manager, that we are under pressure at the moment, which is normal after underperforming at a World Cup," he told Sky Sports News.
"It will really help if we could put in a good, positive performance tomorrow and get maximum points. Then we can take that into the Switzerland game on Tuesday.
"We qualified really well for the World Cup, playing good attacking football. If we can perform at that level, I'm sure we will get out of this group in a similar fashion.
"The difficult thing is that there is slightly more pressure on us this time around. But we have to cope with that, we have to handle that. We have certainly got the exciting players to get off to a winning start.
"I think it's very important that we make a statement in the group and make it clear that we want to qualify comfortably."
Gerrard is also hoping that the spate of withdrawals which has hindered England's preparations can be turned into a positive, with a number of players looking to make their mark on the international stage.
He added: "After the team underperformed in South Africa there have been changes made and with injuries as well it's a fantastic opportunity for players to stake a claim, perform well and give the manager something to think about."