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By ESPN Staff

Gerrard delighted by Heskey England return

Steven Gerrard has hailed Emile Heskey as England's unsung hero as they begin the countdown to Wednesday's crunch Euro 2008 qualifier with Russia at Wembley.

Heskey was brought back into the England side after an absence of more than three years and played a major role in the weekend win over Israel.

He linked up effectively with Michael Owen and, with Peter Crouch available after suspension to face the Russians, has given head coach Steve McClaren food for thought when it comes to naming his side.

Gerrard also knows of Heskey's qualities from his four-year spell at Liverpool and insists they are appreciated in the dressing room if not always on the terraces and among the critics.

He said: 'I was really pleased, with Crouchy being suspended, that the manager brought Emile in. I know him inside out and Emile is a player's player.

'You appreciate him and what he contributes when you are out there with him on the pitch. He does a lot of hard work that just goes unnoticed.

'He caused Israel a lot of problems. I thought we picked up lots of little bits of possession off him against Israel, he put in a positive performance.'

Gerrard believes Owen will be determined to again get on the scoresheet against the Russians after registering his 38th goal for his country at the weekend with a stunning half volley from outside the Israel box.

Gerrard said: 'Michael will probably be disappointed not to get a hat-trick. That is Michael Owen for you. The good thing is he is starting to get his match fitness back and his sharpness.

'Michael will be pleased he is getting the chances but upset he didn't get more than one goal. That's a good thing going into Wednesday because he will be even more determined to get on the scoresheet again.

'Michael is a great goalscorer and hopefully he can deliver the same against the Russians.'

Gerrard called on England to deliver a similar performance against the Russians, also 3-0 weekend winners against Macedonia, to put their qualification campaign back on track.

He said: 'We were positive about the performance but the important thing is not to get carried away.

'We realise Russia is going to be a tougher test so we need to forget about Israel now. But we can take the positives from that game and build on it and hopefully get the same outcome.'