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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 10 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 7, 2007

Lampard confident of reaching Euro finals

Frank Lampard is confident England can banish their autumn blues and qualify for the European Championship finals.

Steve McClaren's side find themselves out of the top two in their qualifying group after the double setback of a goalless home draw against Macedonia and a 2-0 reversal in Croatia.

England will take on Spain in a friendly at Old Trafford tonight before facing Israel in Tel Aviv next month in a Euro 2008 qualifier they cannot afford to lose.

But midfielder Lampard, in a rich vein of goalscoring form for Chelsea since the new year, is optimistic England can shape their own destiny.

He said: 'There is only one way to look at the qualifying group and that is to worry about us.

'I know we had the hiccups in the previous couple of games which means, all of a sudden, we are not in top position.

'But we have to think if we win all our remaining games and perform like we can do then we should still qualify - and we do really believe that.

'Everyone was extremely disappointed with the result in Croatia. We missed a couple of key players out there and we didn't play so well.

'But we showed more in the friendly international with Holland before Christmas and we will be better and ready for the Israel game.'

Lampard and Steven Gerrard will again be given licence to roam forward in a 4-3-3 system against the Spaniards in which Shaun Wright-Phillips will be handed a rare start for his country.

McClaren is happy to give the former Manchester City player a run-out after Aaron Lennon's withdrawal through illness, especially with the winger playing a more prominent role for the Blues in recent games.

McClaren said: 'That's my decision on whether players are playing or not - and whether I pick them or not.

'Shaun has played quite regularly just recently because of injuries at Chelsea.

'Ideally, we'd like to see performances week in, week out but Shaun has always performed for England and always done well in training so I have no hesitation in picking him.'

McClaren also indicated Aston Villa skipper Gareth Barry will be used at some stage against the Spanish - and will therefore appear under his fifth England manager since making his debut during the Kevin Keegan reign seven years ago.

McClaren said: 'At some stage against Spain I want to hopefully get Gareth Barry on, whether that's at left-back or left midfield or centre midfield.'