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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 14, 2007

McClaren ignoring selection headache for now

England coach Steve McClaren is happy to put an impending selection headache to the back of his mind for now.

With Emile Heskey and Gareth Barry among the major stand-out performers in their three-goal hammerings of Israel and Russia this week, McClaren must now make some major decisions ahead of next month's double header with Estonia and Russia.

Two more wins would see England book their place at Euro 2008 with a game to spare, with the trip to Moscow on October 17 of particular significance.

McClaren knows he must get his team right for the return clash with Guus Hiddink's side and is acutely aware with Wayne Rooney, Owen Hargreaves, David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Gary Neville among the big names missing this week, he will have to deliver some bad news to major figures within the game when he eventually gets round to naming his side.

It is not a situation he is frightened of but, knowing injuries could bite hard over the next four weeks, he cannot see any point dwelling on it either.

'What we have to do for the next couple of days is look at the last two performances, not worry about the future,' he said.

'My worry is the three games we still have to play, not the players who are to come back in. That is the kind of dilemma any manager would want.

'Every player will be watched over the next few weeks before the squad is announced and everything is an option.

'We are slowly evolving a team and finding a way we want to play but what I am going to do next month is something to discuss in the future.'

McClaren does have a number of alternatives, including despatching Rooney to the left-wing as Sir Alex Ferguson has done on numerous occasions at Manchester United.

That would involve axing Joe Cole, as equally unjust a move on present evidence as the possibility of ditching Heskey.

Not known for his mental toughness, Heskey's confidence could be shattered by finding himself surplus to requirements after two superb performances on his return to the international arena.

And McClaren recognises the Wigan forward has a special bond with Michael Owen, whose two goals against Russia saw him become only the fourth England player to hit the 40 mark.

'Sometimes it just happens,' said McClaren.

'I don't know why but you just gel and blend with someone.'

'Last week's training was key for a lot of players. It gives a good insight and I was left in no doubt the partnership of Heskey and Owen would cause problems.'

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