McClaren calls on big guns
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Steve McClaren wants England's 'big' players to produce the goods against Israel.
England coach Steve McClaren has called on his 'big' players to produce the goods against Israel next week.
The English resume their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign with a match in Tel Aviv, knowing defeat would almost put them out of the tournament having already lost to Croatia and drawn with Macedonia.
The pressure is already on McClaren and he is looking for his key players to come good.
"It is when our backs are against the wall that the big players have to step forward," he said.
"I have been involved with this squad for five years now and we have had bad results in every qualification, which have raised doubts about reaching the finals of major tournaments.
"The key thing is to remain relaxed and not worry about it. We need the players to go out with an aggressive, positive attitude.
"We have done it before. We are good enough to do it again."
One of those key players is skipper John Terry, who has only just returned to Chelsea first team after suffering concussion in the Carling Cup final last month.
"John is so important to us," said McClaren.
"He epitomises what I want from the team. That is why I picked him as captain.
"To have him in Israel would be a massive boost because he has the same effect with England as he does with Chelsea.
"When we look around the dressing room, we will need to look each other in the eye and know that we trust each other and we have the respect for each other."
The left of England's midfield remains an issue for McClaren, with Aaron Lennon, Kieron Dyer and Stewart Downing all possibilities.
"That has been a problem area since Joe Cole got his injury," said McClaren, "but we've got options there. We've seen Aaron Lennon, who can play right side and has played left side quite regularly.
"On Sunday [against Chelsea] he gave a great performance at the head of a diamond.
"He's somebody who came into the World Cup, excited us from day one and played a cameo part in some games. Unfortunately, because of injuries and illness, we haven't seen him as often as we would like. Lennon has that experience of a World Cup so I would have no hesitation about putting him in, but he's still got a long way to go.
"But I've also been impressed with Kieron Dyer and in the Spain game he was one of the pluses. He's a possibility. As is Stewart Downing, who's coming into form with Middlesbrough and who gives you that natural balance as a left-footer."
McClaren will name a 23-man party on Friday and with both Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge missing, Wigan's Leighton Baines is being tipped for a first call-up - although Phil Neville and Jamie Carragher will likely battle it out to start at left-back.
One other name being linked with shock inclusion is Preston's David Nugent.
Charlton's Darren Bent is still struggling with a knee injury, whilst Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe have a hectic schedule coming over the next week - so Nugent is set to be placed on stand-by for a surprise call-up.