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By ESPN Staff

Carson confident he's ready for the step up

Scott Carson insists he is not scared by the challenge of being England goalkeeper as he prepares for his competitive debut in tonight's crunch Euro 2008 qualifier with Croatia at Wembley.

Carson has seen at first hand the criticism that Paul Robinson - number one throughout Steve McClaren's reign - has received after a series of high-profile errors for club and country.

But the Liverpool keeper, currently on loan at Aston Villa, will relish rather than be fazed by the opportunity in a match in which England need to avoid defeat to reach the finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Carson said: 'Does the threat of criticism scare you? Not really. You've got to take the good with the bad.

'It's all right everyone talking about you if you do really well but then everyone is going to have a bad game and you've then got to say `I've done that wrong', and you've got to be big enough to take the criticism.'

Carson was pleased with his debut against Austria and delighted to rid himself of an unwanted record.

He said: 'I had been getting banter off the lads saying I had the record for the most England squad call-ups without winning a cap. It was nice to get that cap. Now I can give the lads a little bit of banter back.

'I wasn't bothered I didn't have a lot to do (against Austria). I just wanted to get out and play and avoid controversy. I was just delighted to get my first cap.'

Carson knows all about the qualities of Liverpool striker Peter Crouch and believes he will cause problems for Croatia in what is likely to be a 4-5-1 formation.

He said: 'Anyone who gets picked against Croatia will do the job for England but I obviously know Peter from Liverpool and he is a great striker and a great target man.

'He has a great goalscoring record for England, one of the best there is, and hopefully he can carry it on.'

Carson was impressed with the turnout of more than 4,000 England fans in Vienna and believes they will have a massive role to play at Wembley.

He said: 'The fans are going to be very important when we need a positive result. Hopefully they will be right behind us.

'The England fan base is right up there with the best. Every away game they come out in their thousands and support the team well - like in Austria - and everyone in the squad is really grateful to them home and away.'