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By ESPN Staff

Carson starts ahead of Robinson

Steve McClaren is remaining tight-lipped as to who will be England's goalkeeper for their final European Championship qualifier against Croatia after handing Scott Carson his debut in tonight's clash against Austria.

McClaren has always publicly backed Paul Robinson when there have been question marks raised over whether he should remain in the side.

But this time the head coach would only say he knew 'in his own mind' who would be between the posts for a game England have to win if they are to have any remote chance of reaching the finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Carson has been handed his opportunity after a series of impressive performances for the Under-21s and then Aston Villa following his loan move from Liverpool.

McClaren said: 'I've been wanting to look at Scott for a long time. He deserves it after the fine European Championships he had with the Under-21s.

'I've said to him before, if there's ever a game to give him 90 minutes, I'll give him one and this is an ideal opportunity.

'Scott has been around the squad for a long time and his performances for Aston Villa have been very good this season.'

When asked which keeper would face Croatia, McClaren said: 'I've got the goalkeeper in my own mind for next Wednesday. You'll find that out next Wednesday.'

While Carson celebrates his first cap, his Villa team-mate Gareth Barry can consider himself unfortunate to have been axed and replaced by Frank Lampard after impressing in the two meetings with Russia and against Estonia.

But Lampard has made a favourable impression at Chelsea in recent games, to the extent McClaren believes he has been in 'some of the best form of his career'.

He said: 'With regards to Gareth Barry, I just want to have a look at Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard together again. It is no slight on Gareth, who's been excellent for us in the last three games.

'Frank's form for Chelsea has been a revelation and he really looks sharp and he has been playing some of the best football I've seen him play.

'But this is only a friendly and this team is not necessarily the team which will play against Croatia at Wembley - and that includes the midfield.'

Skipper John Terry is back in light training with Chelsea after injury and his fitness will be assessed over the weekend as to whether he could play any part against Croatia.

McClaren said: 'I spoke to John on Friday and it has been a long time since he played.

'He has joined in light training and he is progressing that and we will review things on a daily basis and we will see where we are on Sunday night and Monday morning.'