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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 5, 2007

Heskey can provide England Plan B, says McClaren

Steve McClaren is convinced Emile Heskey can provide the aerial route to victory for England against Israel this weekend. Heskey earned a surprise late call-up for Saturday's crucial Euro 2008 clash at Wembley, strangely as a direct replacement for midfielder Frank Lampard. Having lost the Chelsea man's goalscoring prowess so soon after David Beckham was injured as well, McClaren felt he needed to find another way of attacking a notoriously obdurate Israel outfit, who have already held England to a goalless draw in Tel Aviv. And, with Peter Crouch suspended, the answer appears be Heskey, whose strike partnership with Michael Owen has produced an impressive 14 goals in 12 England starts together. 'There are only three ways you can get at teams - you can either go through them, go round them or go over them,' observed McClaren. 'Emile gives us other options. He is a problem for defenders in the air and, in Israel, because Peter Crouch was not available, we did not have a Plan B. 'We have not got Peter for the Israel game this time either, which is one of the reasons I have brought Emile in.' If the way McClaren organised his team at their first training session is any guide, Heskey is likely to find himself on the bench against Israel, with Andrew Johnson set to partner Owen. Gareth Barry did himself no harm as a midfield stand-in for absent duo Steven Gerrard and Owen Hargreaves, although the key move was to put David James behind a defence that included certain starters Rio Ferdinand, Micah Richards and Ashley Cole. While McClaren insisted nothing should be read into the decision, it is difficult to see why he would want James working in tandem with his first-choice defenders - skipper John Terry was another training ground absentee - unless he was getting ready to axe under-fire Paul Robinson. Yet no matter who eventually plays, McClaren knows it is time his team started getting results. The honeymoon period he enjoyed after replacing Sven-Goran Eriksson has long since ended and unless England can find winning form fast, the former Middlesbrough coach will be looking for alternative employment. 'There are no excuses,' he declared. 'The players I have are good enough to win these games. 'I don't have to tell them, or anyone else, how important it is for us to win on Saturday. 'We know Israel will come to Wembley for a draw, defend until they get it and be delighted if that is what they achieve.

'But now is the time for us to deliver.'

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