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Sep, 6, 2009

Barry fears Eduardo backlash against England

Gareth Barry fears a reaction from Eduardo, the Arsenal striker probably not enjoying his recent notoriety, when England meet Croatia in Wednesday night's potentially pivotal World Cup qualifier at Wembley. Eduardo's behaviour in Arsenal's recent Champions League victory over Celtic has seen him become a reluctant symbol for "simulation", with Arsene Wenger decrying what he perceives to be a "witch-hunt" against the former Dinamo Zagreb striker.

UEFA have handed Eduardo a two-match Champions League ban for "deceiving the referee" although Arsenal have vowed to appeal against the punishment that relates to an incident in the first half of a 3-1 victory at Emirates Stadium when the striker won a highly-contentious penalty.

It is hardly far-fetched to predict that Eduardo will receive what could generously be called a lively reception from the Wembley crowd on Wednesday, and Barry is concerned that the Brazilian-born forward will be determined to silence his critics on a night when England will qualify for the World Cup finals if they beat Slaven Bilic's visitors.

"He will know that there might be a bit of a backlash at him on Wednesday night but he is a top class player," Barry told ESPN Soccernet. "He will be looking to prove people wrong. Hopefully it won't backfire on us."

Wednesday night's showdown comes just two years after the same opposition ended England's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 when winning 3-2 at Wembley, in the process signalling the end of Steve McClaren's ill-fated spell in charge.

As a deluge of rain coated the Wembley turf in 2007, one of the shining lights in Bilic's side was a diminutive Dinamo Zagreb playmaker named Luka Modric. Now at Tottenham, the mercurial Modric will miss Wednesday's game having sustained a leg fracture in a Premier League fixture against Birmingham City.

Barry admits England are highly fortunate that the Spurs star will be watching from the stands as Croatia attempt to cling onto their fading hopes of winning automatic qualification for the finals in South Africa.

"You have got to pick Modric and Eduardo as their two main men so we are happy Modric is missing really," Barry said.

England approach Wednesday's game having won their warm-up friendly against Slovenia, but the 2-1 victory at Wembley on Saturday was slightly marred by some defensive lapses, most notably when the visitors scored through Zlatan Ljubijankic after 85 minutes.

Fabio Capello was visibly furious on the touchline and, with England having conceded two sloppy goals in a friendly game against Holland in August, Barry is aware that shortcomings must be addressed.

"The manager likes to start with a clean sheet really and it is something we will look at," Barry said. "The lads were disappointed to concede today really. Although they [Slovenia] had a good 20 minutes to begin with, they didn't really create too much after that. We will look to build on that on Wednesday night and see where it takes us."

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