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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 14, 2006

Players must earn place in McClaren's England

Steve McClaren has told his England players to prove to him they deserve their place in the new era.

McClaren gathered his players for the first time since he took over the top job from Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Eriksson and David Beckham were obviously missing but the squad were back at Manchester United's training ground where they prepared for their doomed World Cup mission.

McClaren continued his theme about breaking with the past and searching for a new direction ahead of his first game against Greece.

He promised to give the players a chance and Owen Hargreaves, who hopes to benefit by becoming an England regular, welcomed the new regime.

Hargreaves said: 'It's not that long since we all saw each other - but it's a different team and a different time with a new manager.

'It's only been a few weeks but I think things have changed. We all know things will be different.

'Steve McClaren told us that everyone controls their own situation, that every player in the squad today has the opportunity to prove himself and keep his England shirt.'

McClaren introduced his new backroom team to the players.

Middlesbrough coach Steve Round took the players on their warm-up and McClaren's assistant Terry Venables played a big part in the tactical work.

Sports psychologist Bill Beswick watched from the touchline as Ray Clemence worked with goalkeepers Paul Robinson, Chris Kirkland and Ben Foster.

Hargreaves said: 'The training session was very different to what we've done in the past.

'Every manager has his own philosophy on how he'd like to train and Steve McClaren will dictate what he want.'

Since naming his squad last Friday, McClaren has spoken about his desire to forge an England team with pace and width.

Steven Gerrard worked on the right of midfield in McClaren's first session and Stewart Downing on the left.

Venables supervised the session, working at switching play out to the wings.

The coaching staff set-up a drill with mini-nets in the four corners of the pitch and encouraged the players to score in those goals.

The theory is that, when the mini-nets are taken out, the players will be accustomed to playing in the same areas and will drive into the corners, behind the full-backs.

New captain John Terry, Peter Crouch, Frank Lampard and Jamie Carragher were all rested from the session after their efforts in the FA Community Shield on Sunday.

But McClaren's team selection in training still offered clues to his plans for Wednesday night's friendly.

Dean Ashton and Jermain Defoe were paired up front and Gerrard played on the right, where he played regularly for Liverpool last season.

Hargreaves and Lampard could be given the chance in central midfield with Downing offering balance on the left.

McClaren will probably stick with Eriksson's tried and tested back-four of Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Terry and Ashley Cole.

Hargreaves admitted it felt unusual to be in an England camp without Beckham, who has been dropped by the new manager.

The Bayern Munich midfielder said: 'It's strange for me because, ever since I've been involved in 2001, he's been here and he's been the captain.

'I was surprised but I'm not the manager and I don't pick the team.

'He's been a focal point and a great captain. He's had some incredible achievements.

'I had a great time playing with Becks. Any time a player of that calibre is not involved any more, it's something everyone will recognise.'

McClaren may have made a good impression on his players but fans are not too excited about his first game at the helm.

The Football Association have only sold about half of the tickets for the friendly at Old Trafford.

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