Chris Wilder had plenty of experience dealing with an injury-hit squad last season, and the Oxford United boss believes the same problem will hamper England’s chances at Euro 2012.
Roy Hodgson’s men fly off to the tournament tomorrow, but their preparations have been plagued by injuries ahead of their opening group game against France next Monday.
Gary Cahill fractured his jaw in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Belgium, becoming the fourth player to withdraw during the build-up after knocks to Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and John Ruddy.
For Wilder, absent younger players could also prove key, lengthening the odds on England making an impact, with Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine also in Group D.
He said: “We’re missing a lot of good players and we’re in a really tough group, so it’s a difficult situation. I think Jack Wilshere would have definitely made an impression.
“It’s going to be difficult for the players to win it, there are some top-notch sides that are fully fit.”
Hodgson was only named as Fabio Capello’s successor last month, but Wilder backed the Football Association’s appointment.
He said: “In football, I think the appointment of Roy Hodgson was met with universal approval.
“In the game people know the work he’s done, not just in the English game, but obviously his experience abroad.
“I’ve always said English players would prefer an English manager because they’re used to the motivational aspect in getting the maximum out of the players.
“I think it shows a pathway through to other English managers that it is open.”
Despite Wilder’s day job, the U’s boss will not be any different to the rest of the England supporters once the tournament begins.
He said: “I think we’re all the same, you have a professional view on it, pick your side and see how it goes, but once the whistle goes everyone turns into a punter.
“I’ll be the same, I’ll be in a pub somewhere shouting and balling and wanting England to do great.
“You never know with England, they always manage to excite you, surprise you and then let you down – a bit like Oxford!”