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England fans 'key to qualification'

Published: Monday 19 November 2007, 20.26CET
With the air of negativity lifted by Israel's weekend win, Steve McClaren has called on the whole country, especially the Wembley crowd, to get behind England.
 
Published: Monday 19 November 2007, 20.26CET

England fans 'key to qualification'

With the air of negativity lifted by Israel's weekend win, Steve McClaren has called on the whole country, especially the Wembley crowd, to get behind England.

Although it is "no foregone conclusion" that England will earn the point they need against Croatia at Wembley to qualify for a sixth successive UEFA European Championship, Steve McClaren has underlined his determination to "finish the job" on Wednesday having been handed a lifeline at the weekend.

Intense pressure
McClaren had been under intense pressure since a 2-1 loss in Moscow last month took England's destiny out of their hands, but this eased as Israel defeated Russia by the same scoreline to leave England well-placed to advance to Austria and Switzerland along with Group E leaders Croatia. "We're there now, we're in the driving seat, it's up to us. So we have to make sure we finish the job," said the England boss. "But it's not a foregone conclusion and we need everybody to get behind the team. I'm talking about the media, the people in the street, the people there at Wembley.

'Great night'
"For me, the fans are going to be key. So let's put all the other agendas away, leave them for after the game. Let's make sure the build-up is so positive and we're so behind this team that we go out there and win. Because where do we want to be? We all want to be in Austria and Switzerland next summer. And we can all help in that aim. We will go out to win the game. I don't think it's in England's nature to play for a draw. But we also know we must get the balance right and we have to make it a great night on the terraces. We have to make Wembley intimidating for the opposition and a boost for us."

Beckham goal
McClaren was part of Sven-Göran Eriksson's coaching staff when David Beckham scored a sensational late free-kick against Greece to earn England a place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup – and hopes to avoid a similarly nerve-wracking finish this time. "I hope it doesn't come to that, but that's how dangerous Croatia are going to be," he said. "It's the first thing I'm going to stress to the players. They know. And the mood among the players is one of determination. They know we have to deliver on Wednesday."

 
Last updated: 19/11/07 21.08CET

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