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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 15, 2006

McClaren praises youngster Richards

Steve McClaren hailed the performances of debutant Micah Richards and striker Andrew Johnson after his side's 1-1 draw with Holland at the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday night.

The England coach was pleased with the team's overall display but singled out his latest additions to the squad for special praise.

McClaren told the BBC after the 1-1 draw: 'There was a lot of fluidity. We had penetration up front and I'm very pleased with the performance.

'When everyone is fit and available we have a strong team, a good team.

'We are moving forward and the preparation has to be right for when we meet Israel in March.'

McClaren reserved praise for Everton striker, Andrew Johnson who was played out of position on the right and did not come close to scoring.

The former Middlesbrough boss continued: 'He did a fantastic job for us, what he was asked to do.

'It was fluid and we wanted flexibility. I wanted us to get the best out of each player. He did a job for the team. He is flexible and he did that.'

McClaren also paid tribute to debutant Micah Richards, adding on the BBC: 'The two days he's been with us it's as if he's been with us for years.

'It gave every confidence for the future.'

McClaren continued on Sky Sports News: 'We tried three up front to put pressure on them and for the majority of the game I think it worked.

'I was also very impressed with the midfield trio, while Wayne Rooney is coming back into form and deserved his goal - it was a massive boost.

'Everyone contributed and played as a team.'

On newcomers Johnson and Richards, he explained: 'AJ was always a threat and his workrate is very, very good. We needed that against a very talented team, especially attacking-wise - I think he did a great job for us.

'Micah gave a mature performance - it wasn't easy against the type of players we were up against.

'But he's a very good one on one defender as we know.'

The England boss explained: 'I think we are a little bit further on - we lacked penetration in the final third in our previous two games but today we had that pace with AJ, Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

'It stretches defences and gives midfield players more room, which they exploited.'

But he was not happy with the goal conceded, adding: 'If you'd said it would be a long throw we conceded from - I wouldn't have put money on it.

'We defended very well all night so to concede like that is very disappointing.'

On England's chances of qualifying for the 2008 European Championships - they are now third after wins for Croatia and Russia today - McClaren added: 'There's still a long way to go.

'The crucial stages are next season when there are four or five games to go - but this will give the fans a boost.

'We are a good team and play good football - and we should have won this game.'

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