England skipper Gerrard is one of the world’s best, says Scott Parker
Scott Parker has hailed England captain Steven Gerrard as one of the best midfielders in the world and believes their partnership is beginning to flourish at Euro 2012.
Gerrard found extra responsibility placed on his shoulders when experienced midfield duo Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry were ruled out through injury.
The Liverpool skipper has thrived with the extra burden and set up three of England’s five goals to date, including Tuesday night’s winner for Wayne Rooney in the 1-0 win over Ukraine, which clinched top spot in Group D.
Parker, though, has also stepped forward – in his first major international competition – and been the ideal foil for Gerrard in helping England set up Sunday’s quarter-final meeting with Italy in Kiev.
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The Tottenham midfielder said: “I think myself and Stevie have clicked really well this tournament. We’re well organised. I know his game pretty well now and I’m sure he knows mine.
“We give the team a good base to work from and, hopefully, we can maintain that.
“Stevie is one of the best midfielders in the world. That’s been the case for many years and he’s been the best in the Premier League.
“We lost some big players who had to drop out through injury like Frank and Gareth, which was disappointing.
“But myself and Stevie have taken on the challenge and, hopefully, we can carry on.”
Parker believes a togetherness and spirit among the players in Hodgson’s 23-man squad is a key element to England’s success and is optimistic the best is still to come in Poland and Ukraine.
He said: “We’ve set ourselves up. We have a real togetherness in the camp and a real belief.
“In life it is crucial to have that belief and positivity and I think we’ve shown that is what we’ve got.
“Sometimes it can take you far and get you somewhere.
“There’s a confidence in the group and still, hopefully, a little bit more to come, but only time will tell.
“Over this tournament we’ve shown we’ve got a lot of commitment and togetherness – and it’s perfect for us.”
The midfielder added: “I don’t think getting through to the quarter-finals was beyond our expectations.
“I think we set out to take part in a tough group – but a group we thought we could progress from.
“We’ve done that and to come top is pleasing. Against Ukraine, they put us under a lot of pressure in a very hostile atmosphere – but it was backs against the wall, we dug it out and then, in the second half, we got the goal and really hung on. I think that suits our style.”