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Trending: Barca confident of Messi stay

By ESPN Staff

El Tel: Big Mac confident of England success

Under-fire England coach Steve McClaren is 'supremely confident' of surmounting the challenges that lie ahead, according to his assistant Terry Venables.

The former Middlesbrough manager has endured stinging criticism from some quarters following Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Spain at Old Trafford - a result which stretched the national side's winless run to four games.

After little more than six months in the job it has even been suggested that poor performances in next month's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra could place his position in doubt.

But Venables, himself a former England manager, insists there are nothing but positive thoughts ahead of the crunch match in Tel Aviv on March 24.

'Despite everything that is being said and written, Steve and I are supremely confident - we're ready for these matches and we believe we will win them,' he told the News of the World.

Venables added: 'We understand the consequences if we fail against Israel.

'But failure isn't something weighing us down right now because we know, given a full squad, we are strong enough and good enough to deal with that game, and the next one against Andorra.'

Venables admits the defeat to Spain was a `painful' experience, but, with the boos of fans at Old Trafford still ringing in the management team's ears, he claims confidence is still running high.

He said: 'This isn't the first time England have lost a friendly, nor the first time we have been booed off the pitch.

'There is nobody more bitterly disappointed than Steve, nobody who wants to win more than him.

'I've seen the pain on his face. That alone tells you how passionately he cares.

'He knows the hopes of the entire country are pinned on his shoulders. But he knows what the squad should and can do, and that knowledge is making us all confident about the games ahead.'