FOOTBALL: Just the test we needed says Gerrard

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Steven Gerrard hailed England’s win over Belgium as the perfect dress rehearsal for their European Championship opener against France - even if it came at some cost.

Captain Gerrard was one of several walking wounded after Saturday’s bruising 1-0 Wembley victory in the final warm-up friendly before Euro 2012.

The Liverpool star was withdrawn late on through cramp after a typical all-action display but he got off lightly compared to Gary Cahill - now ruled out of the tournament - John Terry and Joleon Lescott.

Lescott finished the game with a bleeding head wound bandaged up, while concerns remain over the status of Scott Parker’s Achilles.

However, Gerrard shrugged off concerns the game had been too physical for comfort.

“It’s good - it’s the test we needed,” he said.

“We’ve got over a week now to dust ourselves down and recover and get ourselves ready for France.

“I think France is going to be similar. A performance like that is going to be needed, if not a little bit better.”

He added of the June 11 Group D clash in Ukraine: “We’re going to have to be very disciplined and workmanlike without the ball.

“I thought we were solid. We restricted them to very few efforts on goal.

“Let’s not underestimate Belgium. Even though they’re not in this tournament, they’ll be at the next World Cup and they’ll be some team.”

Gerrard also played down fears about his own fitness, with England having already lost fellow midfielders Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry to injury.

The 32-year-old said: “I tired towards the end of the game but it’s the first time I’ve played that amount of football since the FA Cup final, so I’ll benefit from those minutes.

“I’ll be fine for the France game.”

Gerrard now has two wins from two games as full-time skipper thanks to back-to-back 1-0 victories against Norway and Belgium.

But the man who was parachuted into the job for England’s doomed 2010 World Cup campaign was taking nothing for granted ahead of his second major tournament with the armband.

“We feel okay, the mood’s good,” he said.

“We’re on the back of two wins but we’re not getting carried away. We know we can still improve.

“We need to keep listening to the manager, keep getting his ideas and I’m sure we’ll impress and improve as time goes on.”