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By ESPN Staff

McClaren believes Twente have nothing to lose

Steve McClaren has described his FC Twente side as 'very big underdogs' as they prepare to face Arsenal in the Champions League.

Twente qualified for Europe's elite club competition by edging out Ajax in the Eredivisie play-offs and would have hoped for a better draw in the third qualifying round than a meeting with Arsene Wenger's side.

Former England boss McClaren is well aware of Arsenal's strengths and admits the Gunners are overwhelming favourites to progress to the group stage ahead of Wednesday's first leg at the Gelredome in Arnhem.

'Arsenal are one of the strongest teams we could have met,' he said. 'They are among the favourites to win the competition.

'But for our young team it will be something special. The young players can get a lot of experience in these big matches. Not only now but with one eye on the future.

'In the two matches against Arsenal we are not just the underdogs, but we are very big underdogs. Nobody will expect FC Twente to beat Arsenal. We have nothing to lose.'

McClaren opted to return to football with Twente in June after a torrid period in charge of England which culminated in the team failing to qualify for Euro 2008.

He has been delighted with what he has found at the Enschede outfit although he is keen for the club to push on after two fourth-placed finishes in Holland's top flight.

'I am really impressed by the organisation of FC Twente,' he added. 'I see people who are working for the club with passion and want to go further. On the pitch I found a group with a very good fitness level, so we could immediately work on the performance. The target was immediately pointed on the future.

'Looking back to last season is useless. That was the first thing I made clear to the squad. You cannot live on the success you had before. We want to go on down the line that brought success before and that is what we are working on now.'

Twente's Australia midfielder Luke Wilkshire is also wary of Arsenal's quality.

He said: 'At the draw it soon became clear we would get a strong opponent and Arsenal is certainly that.

'They are one of Europe's best and they will be two very difficult matches for us. Of course we are the underdogs but in football anything is possible.'

The home side will be without Youssouf Hersi who is short of match fitness while Blaise N'Kufo is suspended.


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