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The Toe Poke
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By ESPN Staff

Evra ready to battle for place in France first XI

Patrice Evra admits he still does not expect a spot in the France starting XI despite having just won the Champions League and Premier League with Manchester United.

The 27-year-old left the Red Devils' double celebrations to join up with Raymond Domenech's provisional 30-man squad as they prepare to face Italy, Holland and Romania in the group stage at Euro 2008.

But despite joining the squad as one of this season's most successful players at club level, Evra admits he has some way to go before he sees himself on the same level as some of his more established team-mates in Les Bleus' squad.

'I'm not going to expect a place in the starting XI just because I'm a European champion,' Evra told a press conference at the France national team camp.

'I've come here with more confidence and I'm going to show that up to the (opening) match with Romania (on June 9).

'But I don't feel like an international. I don't even have 10 caps, I've only got nine. An international is someone who has had a great tournament.'

Evra has international team-mate Nicolas Anelka to thank in part for his European Cup victory, after the Chelsea striker saw his sudden-death penalty saved by United keeper Edwin van der Sar.

But the French left-back thinks Chelsea captain John Terry, who missed the chance to win the shootout when he hit the post with their fifth spot-kick, was most culpable.

'In England they want to say that (we won) because of Nico, but as far as I'm concerned the decisive penalty was John Terry's,' he continued. 'When Terry slipped I knew that we were going to win. I knew nothing could stop us.'

Now Evra is just as confident of continuing this season's success in Austria and Switzerland, where he believes the World Cup runners-up will be one of the favourites to win.

'All our players play in the biggest clubs in Europe, and the Lyon players are seven times champions of France,' he explained.

'France has a good chance of winning this European Championship. It's up to us to believe in our potential, because every player in our squad strikes fear into our opponents.'

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