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Venables dismisses talk of rift with McClaren

Assistant coach Terry Venables has made it clear he and England boss Steve McClaren are a united front in charge of the national team.

Venables is at pains to dispel any notion of a rift between him and McClaren, after some pundits construed from his News of the World column last week that the two had contrasting ideas on tactics and selection.

Former England boss Venables spells out in tomorrow's edition: 'Anyone who reads my comments in the News of the World will know talk of a division between us is not true.

'I simply expanded on the reasons for leaving (Stewart) Downing out against Croatia and why it meant we had to switch to a 3-5-2 system. Steve had absolutely no problem.'

England have since managed an encouraging draw in a friendly against Holland in Amsterdam - a result and performance which Venables believes mark a step in the right direction.

'Yes, there is more to do - and we have to take these positives into next year when the competitive matches start again,' he writes.

'But we were looking for evidence of a strong team building - and we got them.

'There is closeness about the group again. It seemed as if we took a big step forward.'