World Cup, Sweden v England: Three Lions will be ready this time, says Carlton Palmer

RUNNING on the equivalent of petrol fumes on the back of an exhausting season with Sheffield Wednesday and England, it was Carlton Palmer's misfortune that he should bump into Sweden just over 26 years ago.

BAD NIGHT: England captain Gary Lineker throws the armband to Carlton Palmer after being substituted in his final match by coach Graham Taylor, with England losing the match against Sweden. Picture: Getty Images

It was at the Råsunda Stadium in the Stockholm municipality of Solna where the Three Lions’ Euro ’92 tournament hopes were desecrated by a unflagging host nation high on perspiration and adrenaline as they inflicted an infamous 2-1 loss upon the English.

That oppressive night in June, 1992 saw future Leeds United striker Tomas Brolin make a name for himself by virtue of a stunning late winner as a nation winced back home as eviscerated England headed for the exit door.

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The result represented the high-water mark of Sweden’s footballing subjugation of England, which contains several sweet Nordic chapters.

Winner: England's Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring the third goal with Andy Carroll and Ashley Young during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group D match against Sweden. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Bruises in the English psyche remain, even accounting for a redeeming 3-2 success over the Swedes at Euro 2012 in Kiev – the country’s maiden win over the Scandinavians in a competitive fixture.

The tightness of that triumph spoke of a nation whose perseverance is worn as a badge of honour against England, whose domestic football has inspired and enchanted countless young Swedes growing up over many decades.

Expect the latest crop who line up against the English in Samara this afternoon to be similarly implacable opponents in the very best Swedish tradition.

But while Graham Taylor’s class of 92 wilted in Solna, Palmer believes that the current England side possess more fuel in the tank – mentally and physically – ahead of the country’s latest meeting. They are likely to need it.

England drew upon their reservoirs of character to cast aside their World Cup penalty shoot-out demons in Moscow on Tuesday night – showing their psychological backbone in the process.

A host of leading players, rested for the final group game with Belgium, should also be relatively fresh, with the extra week’s preparation following the early end of the Premier League season being an additional factor to consider.

Looking at the number of league starts registered by several key players in 2017-18 also reinforces that particular viewpoint.

Manchester United trio Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford lined up from the off on 28, 20 and 17 occasions, respectively. Rashford’s gripe is not playing too much, but too little.

Kieran Trippier made 21 league starts for Tottenham, while Danny Welbeck, who scored the winner against Sweden in Euro 2012 chalked up 12 for Arsenal, with John Stones lining up from the off in just 16 top-flight matches for Manchester City. Jordan Henderson made 25 starts for Liverpool.

Given that others such as captain Harry Kane coolled their heels for parts of last season – with the striker out for spells in September and March -–England should be far from weary.

Palmer, capped 18 times by England, said: “We thought we would take care of Sweden at the Euros. But they were physically strong and a big, fit side who were comfortable on the ball. They understood their game and played to their strengths.

“I remember going into that game and I was absolutely knackered. One of the things that has worked for England here is that if you look at a lot of our players, they have not played too much domestic football for their clubs.

“John Stones has not played much for basically half a season. Marcus Rashford has not played a lot, either. When I went into our tournament, I had started so many games that season and played a lot of competitive football before going into a camp to then be playing in a tournament.

“That has hampered us in the past. But you look at things now. Harry (Kane) picked up that ankle injury and missed four or five weeks towards the end of the season and had a ‘rest’ before coming into the tournament. He is relatively fresh still.

“Henderson also missed a fair part of the season. A lot of players are quite fresh and it is showing, allied to the youthfulness.”

England, much like in 1992, entered their latest tournament with expectations low following the retirement of several leading players, but that is where the similarities seem to stop, given the evidence of the past three weeks.

In comparison, the current squad possess a more settled defence, greater squad harmony and a captain and centre-forward in rich form in Kane. Back in Euro 1992, England’s main striker and ageing leader in Gary Lineker went goalless and saw his international career end ingloriously when he was substituted in the loss to Sweden; a goal short of Bobby Charlton’s record.

The present-day England also have a manager in Gareth Southgate who has been given the benefit of the doubt by the press, whereas Graham Taylor never had that luxury in Palmer’s view.

The ex-Owls and Leeds player said: “The press wanted Gareth in. That makes a big difference for a manager. I don’t think any other manager would have got away with going with the young players as he has done. A senior manager would have been under pressure to pick senior players.

“And if things had not gone well, Gareth would not have got the sack. People would have looked at the side as a transitional one. He has been able to manage looking at the team going forward rather than thinking that if he did not do well in the World Cup, he is going to lose his job. He has been able to go with the young players.

“But you cannot argue with anything Gareth has done. Whatever happens from here, England have had a fantastic World Cup.

“I look at England now and I think there is a real belief about them. Once you have young players, they have got no fear. Gareth has instilled that in them and there seems a ‘siege mentality’.

“I think the country needed a pick-me-up. I now live in China but come back and, in the last few years, I have noticed that things are not getting a lot better in the UK and it is tough for people.

“Even if this is only for a month or whatever, it is giving people a bit of a feelgood factor.”