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Four-goal Faris dreams of AFC Cup final


Mertesacker: I've never played in back 3

By ESPN Staff

Terry talks up a united England

Captain John Terry maintains a new-found 'togetherness' and a touch of 'arrogance' can help England shake off their tag as quarter-final also-rans to make an impact on major international tournaments once again.

Steve McClaren's men produced arguably the most impressive display of his reign in defeating Israel 3-0 at Wembley on Saturday to spark life back into what had been a flagging Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

The visit of Russia - coached by one-time England target Guus Hiddink - on Wednesday night will present a much sterner test.

Nevertheless, key midfielder Steven Gerrard feels the current crop of international players are the strongest he has known.

Terry, 26, also firmly believes England have the talent to finally live up to the expectations of the nation.

'I can totally understand where Stevie is coming from when you look around the dressing room,' said Terry, the Chelsea skipper.

'You see these guys playing week in and week out in the Champions League and at the top level, in the big competitions and they are playing very well and getting to the latter stages.'

Terry insisted: 'The togetherness in the squad is key for England. That can be a massive thing for us.

'We finally got that against Israel at this level; everyone was gelling together and it needs to be a little bit more like that every single game.

'Maybe we have not had that in the past, but it is certainly something we are looking to build upon once we do get through the group and go on to the competition - to have that little bit of arrogance and really go that step further.'

Despite their impressive victory over an ordinary Israel side, England's safe passage to next summer's finals in Austria and Switzerland is by no means secure.

Terry, though, feels England often produce their best form when up against the odds.

'The pressure of the vital games certainly does that for us,' he said.

'We now come into this game against a Russia side who are very attacking, quick going forwards and it is going to be very tough.

'It was the game plan to put Israel right on the back foot, not to give them any time to play and we did not give them any chance to settle in - that will be the same again on Wednesday.

'Once we get this one out of the way and hopefully with the three points, things will be looking good.'

Terry, though, knows all the efforts against Israel will count for little should England come unstuck against Russia.

'You cannot help but feel high after a game like that. However, the manager quickly brings you down and we move on to the next game - we cannot stay in the clouds about that one result,' the England captain said.

'Okay, so we have had one good performance, but we need four good results and four good performances.

'This will be another big test, and I am sure we are all up for it.

'I think we will need to raise our game against Russia, they will be a much more organised side.

'We have to rise to the challenge once again. The confidence is certainly there, that we can play to our best, but we need to maintain this level of consistency.'

The main selection dilemma for McClaren would seem to rest around whether to bring back Peter Crouch, who was suspended against Israel, or keep faith with Wigan striker Emile Heskey who played well in support Michael Owen after a long absence from the international side.

With Owen Hargreaves once again unavailable because of injury, it looks as if Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry will get another chance to impress in centre midfield alongside Liverpool captain Gerrard.

Terry, however, insists whomever is involved in the final 18 tomorrow night must be up for the challenge.

'It is a difficult decision, but that is for the manager and nobody else,' said the Chelsea centre-half.

'We had some players who had not played for a while, but came in and did very well.'

Terry added: 'We all know that it is going to be a massive night for all of us.

'Once again, we have all got to be at our best, not just the midfield, but the defence and the attack too, as well as everybody on the bench.

'We all have to be ready and willing because it could be one of the subs who come on in the last five minutes who change the game.'