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By ESPN Staff

Venables happy with competition for places

England assistant coach Terry Venables insists the door is not closed to some of the country's established stars despite two accomplished team performances without them in the last week.

Steve McClaren's side put themselves on course for Euro 2008 qualification after 3-0 victories over Israel and Russia without star names such as Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Owen Hargreaves.

It has been suggested that now McClaren has found the right balance, the star quintet may struggle to get back in the side, but Venables is adamant that all it will mean is greater competition for places.

He wrote in his column for The Sun: 'The great thing about these last 10 days, apart from getting six valuable points, is that we know we have strength in depth.

'Competition for places is what every team wants and we've got it.

'It is also invaluable because we have not had the best of luck with injuries.

'Qualification is not sealed by any means and who knows who will and will not be available for our final three Euro 2008 qualifiers.'

Venables believes the team's success is down to partnerships blossoming all over the pitch.

'People will remember how well the `SAS', (Teddy) Sheringham and (Alan) Shearer, worked for England at Euro 96.

'So think how Shaun Wright-Phillips and Micah Richards worked together down the right and Ashley and Joe Cole down the left.

'Then there's Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, who instinctively play off each other at the back, how Gareth Barry and Steven Gerrard gave us a marvellous balance in central midfield and, of course, the old pals Emile Heskey and Michael Owen combined so well up front.

'It doesn't matter how we got to that point, whether partly through injuries or suspensions, we got there.'