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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Cole: We will play without fear

Joe Cole insists England will play with without fear when they attempt to overcome Croatia in tomorrow's World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.

A 2-0 defeat in the Maksimir Stadium two years ago left England playing catch-up in their ultimately failed bid to reach the Euro 2008 finals.

Now a similar result when the sides clash tomorrow would leave Fabio Capello's side facing a similar scenario.

But Cole, hoping for a starting spot after his two goals as a substitute against Andorra, is confident England will be firing on all cylinders.

The Chelsea midfielder said: ''It is a game of football. You can't go out there and play with fear.

''I'll do my thing, go and try to do my best like I always do. The rest of the lads will - and we will try to win the game.

''It is very hostile when you go these places, very emotional crowds, who get right behind their team, so it will be difficult but we are right up for the challenge.

''We are all experienced players, we've been there and done it and we know what to expect in that sense.

''We know there is going to be an atmosphere and we've got to be right on our toes but we've been there and done that.''

Cole is looking for England to pay more respect to the Croats on this occasion.

He said: ''Last time we went there, we under-estimated them a bit. But, looking at their performances in the Euros, they are a top side with great players.

''I think you need to be solid and tough, you need to be compact and you need everyone's experience on the pitch because it is going to be a hostile environment.

''But I love those games, they are the ones you play for.''

England sides in the past have been accused of not possessing the right attitude but Cole is convinced the current squad are slowly acquiring that facet of the game.

He said: ''You need to show mental toughness and, with the way the team and the squad is set up, we are getting stronger. I can see that every time we meet up.

''There is more mental toughness in the team now.''

Central defender Rio Ferdinand looks like winning his battle to recover from a neck injury in time to face Croatia after coming through a full training session with the squad today.

The Manchester United star, who was ruled out of the Andorra game, will travel with team-mates and Capello to Zagreb later today.

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