"I do feel we're ready. We're very focused, can't wait to get started. We've got one short session to go and then looked forward to match day. We've respect for Italy."
Manaus, June 14 - England have played down concerns about the state of the Arena Amazonia pitch ahead of their World Cup Group D clash against Italy.

Groundsmen at the venue in the Amazonian city of Manaus drew controversy during the week for allegedly using spray paint to cover degraded areas of the pitch, reports Xinhua.

But England captain Steven Gerrard said he and his teammates were satisfied with the surface quality after seeing it for the first time Friday.

I've just been on the pitch, it's totally fine, the grass is a good length and the sun is off it at half-four, the midfielder said.

England manager Roy Hodgson also gave his approval.

I've been on the pitch and it is possible to play good football on it, he said. We'll be perfectly happy to play on it.

The clash provides England with a chance to gain revenge for their loss to the Azzurri in the quarterfinals of Euro 2012.

Gerrard said England are now a better side than the one that lost 4-2 on penalties in Kiev.

We're a better team and a better squad, confidence is higher, preparation has gone well and we're growing as a team, trying to improve, the 34-year-old said.

We know we'll be judged on the games coming up. Hopefully we can prove to everyone we have improved as a team.

I do feel we're ready. We're very focused, can't wait to get started. We've got one short session to go and then looked forward to match day. We've respect for Italy.

They're a fantastic team with wonderful players but there's certainly no fear. We can't wait for kick-off to get going.


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