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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 6, 2007

McClaren issues rallying cry ahead of must-win tie

England manager Steve McClaren has called on his players to answer their critics with victory over Estonia.

Defeat or even a draw would leave England perilously close to a failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals and McClaren insists he is not even contemplating the repercussions.

England were booed in their last qualifier against Andorra, and Frank Lampard was singled out for stick in Friday's qualifier against Brazil, but McClaren stressed there is only one answer.

He said: 'I am more determined to get it right than anybody. What you have to do to answer your critics is by putting in performances, we have done that in the last two games.

'It hurt me that we didn't get the right results but we're aiming to put that right tonight.'

Asked about the booing of Lampard, McClaren replied: 'It's what you do on the field. Frank knows that and answered it on Friday, I praised him and Stevie G (Gerrard) and [Brazil coach] Dunga did the same, that's great respect from a coach such as him.'

The England manager's biggest dilemma is whether to recall Peter Crouch to partner Michael Owen up front in place of Alan Smith.

McClaren has dropped a couple of hints that he is contemplating Crouch yet he tried Smith with Owen in training again this week.

Asked whether he was considering picking the Liverpool striker he said: 'Yes, because he's been very effective against these sort of teams.'

McClaren is expected to shift Jamie Carragher from the right of defence to the centre in place of Ledley King, with Wes Brown coming in at full-back.

He has also experimented with Kieron Dyer at right-back in training this week and he may be an option either as a substitute or if McClaren opts for an ultra-attacking line-up.

Wayne Bridge is also fit after missing the draw against Brazil and it would be a surprise if he did not replace Reading's Nicky Shorey on the left of defence.

Estonia will be without one of their best players in Raio Piiroja, who is suspended. The central defender had believed that an existing yellow card was wiped out after he was sent off against Russia in October but UEFA have informed the Estonians it still stood - and his caution against Croatia on Saturday means he is now banned.

McClaren added: 'He's a big loss to the Estonia team. I found out just as we were getting on the plane [yesterday] but it will not affect my team selection.'

Victory in A Le Coq Arena, capacity just 9,300, will leave England in a reasonable position - especially having four of their five remaining qualifiers at Wembley.

McClaren said: 'If we win it puts us in a good position, a position where our fortune is in our hands.

'I think we saw on Friday [against Brazil] that Wembley is our home. It was a fantastic atmosphere and there was an aura.

'It was a great game and the players got confidence from that. With four of our last five games at home we have got to be confident we can win them all.'