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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

England will come good in Israel, says McClaren

MANCHESTER, England, Feb 8 (Reuters) - England manager Steve McClaren believes his Euro 2008 stragglers will hold their nerve and come good in next month's qualifier in Israel.

The game in Tel Aviv on March 24 looks a more daunting prospect in the wake of England's 1-0 friendly defeat by Spain on Wednesday and their fall to third place in Group E behind Russia and leaders Croatia.

Asked if it would be hard to lift his men for the game at the Ramat Gan stadium, McClaren said: 'No problem. We've got great pride in playing for England and they know they've got a job on.

'They know it's not easy, that they've not got a divine right to be in the team, not got a divine right to qualify and that they have to work hard towards that.

'They know what they have to do and they will be ready in six weeks to do that.'

McClaren and his players know they will be under pressure after their disappointing display at Old Trafford, which was largely down to injury absences.

'It's about holding your nerve at times like this,' said the coach, who replaced Sven-Goran Eriksson after the World Cup and has yet to really convince a sceptical British media.

'It's what we all have to do, even though the criticism will fly. But we know what we're doing, we know where we are, we know that by six weeks time we'll have a completely different face on what we have at the present.

'We've got to hold our nerve and stay positive.'

The player McClaren most needs to return at Ramat Gan is striker Wayne Rooney, who just missed out against Spain due to a back injury.

'He wins you football matches, everybody knows his importance,' McClaren said. 'He can make a difference and I think that was the thing missing - quality in the final third.'