England Under-21s captain Jordan Henderson remains upbeat about his side’s European Championship chances despite last night’s uncharacteristically poor display against Italy.
Stuart Pearce’s side came to Israel to much fanfare, having won their previous nine matches without conceding a goal.
However, that run came to an abrupt end last night as Lorenzo Insigne’s fine free-kick earned Italy a deserved 1-0 win in their Group A opener in Tel Aviv.
England’s performance was as disappointing as the result, although skipper Henderson believes they can make amends in their remaining games against Norway and hosts Israel.
“We can’t get too disheartened about the performance and the result,” the Liverpool midfielder said.
“We’ve just got to go from here, stay positive and hopefully we can get a good result against Norway.
“It is a big opportunity for us to go against Norway and get a good result and Israel after that.
“We’ve still got a long way to go, we still have to remain confident that we can achieve what we want to achieve.
“Hopefully we can start that by getting a good result against Norway.”
While the performance was lacking, things could have been so much different for England had Craig Dawson’s header not been controversially ruled out.
The West Brom centre-back looked to have nodded the Young Lions ahead four minutes into the second half, only for the goal to be chalked off to mass confusion.
Henderson still does not know why Dawson’s effort was disallowed but, despite the bad luck, knows England were not at their best at the Bloomfield Stadium.
“We tried to press them high up in the first 20 minutes or so, but it wasn’t really working,” he said. “They were picking us off a little bit.
“We went back and went a little deeper, which I felt worked a little better.
“They found it hard to break as down and then we tried to get them on the counter.
“But, like I say, it was definitely not one of our better performances. We’ve got to learn from it and look forward to the next game.
“It was a difficult game. I thought Italy did quite well, kept the ball well at times.
“I still feel we could play a bit better and keep the ball a bit better. I think it might have been a different story if our goal was allowed in the second half.
“There was no reason why it shouldn’t have been, but that is football. You’ve got to get on with these things.
“Then we conceded at the other end. Overall, it is disappointing but we have to pick ourselves up now for the next two games.”
One of the few positives to come out of the game was the way Birmingham winger Nathan Redmond took to the stage.
With a number of wide players unavailable, the 19-year-old was yesterday handed his Under-21 debut and did not disappoint.
“I thought he was brilliant,” Henderson added.
“He got on the ball, took players on and was a real threat for us.
“He was brilliant and hopefully he can carry on do that for us in the next game.”