Gerrard: England face must-win
England captain Steven Gerrard has warned his teammates that they will live to regret their failure if they miss out on qualification for the knockout phase of this summer's World Cup.
Gerrard will lead his team into battle in a crucial Group D game in Sao Paulo on Thursday knowing a second straight defeat will almost certainly end England's hopes of progression into the next phase of Brazil 2014, yet confidence appears to be high among coach Roy Hodgson and his English players.
Liverpool midfielder Gerrard has confirmed that he joined by senior squad member Frank Lampard and Hodgson by offering an confidence-boosting speech to the rest of the England players following their 2-1 defeat against Italy last Saturday, as the trio tried to emphasise the importance of the Uruguay game.
"It was important for them to realise what is at stake and how important this game is," Gerrard said in his pre-match news conference.
"It wasn't a message to scare any of the lads but a wake-up call to everyone in the room, the staff and the players. We have got a must-win scenario.
"It could be a terrible long, frustrating summer if we don't get it right [against Uruguay]. There is no hiding place for a player when you go out of a tournament.
"It can be tough as a player and it can take an awful long time to get over it. I have been there. I know what that feeling is about and that is the feeling that I don't want come Friday morning. We need everyone focused and right on it on Thursday.
"In the qualification, we probably put our two best performances together when the pressure was really on. That's maybe because you realise what is at stake and you don't really get a second chance.
"I'm hoping that is going to be the case in the next two games, but they are tricky opponents that we are going to come up against. The lads still have that confidence and belief. I haven't seen any negativity or anyone lacking any belief since the Italy game."
Gerrard will come up against his Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez in the Uruguay lineup, with the England skipper suggesting his side's success in handling their opponent's forward bursts.
Suarez will be joined by Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan and Gaston Ramirez in trying to unsettle the English defence and Gerrard respects the attacking talent Uruguay have at their disposal.
"For me the key in this game is how we defend because Uruguay's strengths are in their front players," he said. "Cavani, Suarez, Forlan, and Ramirez. They are the key players who can hurt this England team.
"It is no good us being really good going forward on the break if we can't defend properly."
Meanwhile, Gerrard suggested his Liverpool allegiances with Suarez would be put to one side as national duty calls as he added: "He knows that once that whistle blows there is no friendship at all between me and Luis Suarez for 90 minutes.
"If I walk past him in the tunnel I will say hello and shake his hand, but at that moment I am not really looking for friends or teammates."