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By ESPN Staff

Gerrard: Blame the players not McClaren

Stand-in captain Steven Gerrard insists the players must take responsibility if England fail to qualify for Euro 2008.

Gerrard has pledged his support to under-fire coach Steve McClaren ahead of the qualifying stage climax over the next 10 days.

After several poor results England need Israel to avoid defeat at home to Russia on Saturday and must beat Croatia themselves the following Wednesday if they are to guarantee a place at the finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Gerrard, who will stand in for the injured John Terry to captain England in Friday's friendly against Austria, told Sky Sports News: 'I'm certainly backing him.

'I'm sure all the other players are as well. I think he's the right man for the job.

'At the end of the day it is down to the players to take the criticism, as well as the manager and the coaching staff, but the players have got to take the responsibility.

'We are in a bit of a difficult situation and it's really frustrating having it in other people's hands and waiting for other results.

'But we have got to try and be positive and hopefully Israel can do us a favour at the weekend and then we can put all our efforts and concentration into the Croatia game. But we're not giving up yet.'