Daniel Sturridge insists he can be a valuable member of the England “family” even if he fails to win a starting spot at Euro 2016.
Sturridge is one of five specialist strikers in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad, joining Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford.
At least two of those will be among the substitutes when the Group B campaign kicks off against Russia on Saturday, and must swallow their disappointment for the greater good.
The Football Association’s motto for the tournament is ‘Together for England’ and Hodgson expects a collaborative attitude from those who do not make the XI in Marseille.
Sturridge was pictured using his mobile phone in the stand during England’s 2-1 friendly win over Australia - a game he missed with injury - and there have been doubts over whether he is suited to being part of a supporting cast.
The Liverpool man explained his reasons for being pre-occupied that night, related to the work of his eponymous charitable foundation, and vowed to do his best for the team whatever the role.
“We can’t win this thing if there’s egos or problems in the camp,” he said.
“It’s about us being here as a team. I look at other countries in many competitions and when they score everyone is off the bench and they are all involved, all jumping on each other celebrating – and that’s how we have to be.
“We have to be a team. It’s very important, on and off the pitch.
“We don’t have our mums, dads, kids and all those things here. So we’re our family and we have to be together.
“It’s not about ‘I have to play’ or ‘he has to play’. If we’re not here as a nation, and as a team together, we won’t win it. That’s how it is.”
Sturridge’s all-for-one outlook did not stretch as far as agreeing to play the role of ‘good tourist’ though.
“I’m not here for a holiday,” was his response when the notion was floated.
“Nobody wants to sit on the bench. I want to play, of course, but it’s down to the manager to choose his team and I have to understand that.”
Elaborating on his preoccupation at the Stadium of Light, he stressed it was far from a case of indifference to events on the pitch.
“It was my first annual charity event in Birmingham that night,” he said.
“My family had put the event on and they were texting me the whole night. It’s important to watch my team-mates play but if I receive a text message about my charity event, of course I’m going to reply to it.
“I’m trying to do something positive for my community in Birmingham as well as in Jamaica. Of course I want my team-mates to do well and there was no disrespect at all.”
p Kyle Walker’s right forearm bears a tattoo that reads ‘to the stars through difficulties’, a motto that has never seemed more apt than it does today.
The Tottenham right-back made his England debut five years ago but has amassed just 16 caps in that time, having seen his progress stalled at different times by both form and fitness.
“Growing up I didn’t have much so to come from where I have come from to here - and now – is a credit to my parents and myself,” he said.
“You always have to have faith in yourself.
“I have been unlucky with injuries, missing out on a Euros and a World Cup. It always seems to be that I pick them up at the wrong time when the tournaments are coming up. I play countless games for Tottenham throughout the season, it might get too much at the end and I might pick up little niggles.”