McClaren 'pleased it's all done and dusted'

May 6, 2006

New England boss Steve McClaren has admitted his relief at getting back to the nitty-gritty of club management after an eventful week.

The 45-year-old put his Middlesbrough players through their paces this morning in preparation for tomorrow's final Barclays Premiership clash with Fulham with only that and next Wednesday's UEFA Cup final on his mind.

For weeks, if not months, McClaren has had to fend off speculation about the England job and, after being unveiled as Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor on Thursday, he was delighted to be back in his tracksuit and out on the training pitch.

'I am, but it was no problem,' he said when asked if it was a relief that it was all over.

'During the process, we dealt with it and got on with it. It didn't affect our performances and I'm just pleased it's done and dusted, out of the way and I can concentrate on Wednesday.'

McClaren's elevation to the biggest job in English football saw him fulfil his dream, but victory over Sevilla in Eindhoven on Wednesday would bring the perfect end to his career on Teesside.

'Absolutely,' he said. 'It would be a very, very proud moment leading Middlesbrough to that.

'It will be a proud moment leading them out on the night; to win it would be the icing on the cake.

'I'm very, very excited, not just for myself, but for the whole club, the supporters and the town.'

However, before he can even think about that, McClaren will look to end a disappointing Premiership campaign with another positive result at Craven Cottage with possibly the youngest team he has ever fielded.

He has rested most of his senior players for the last two games and come out with creditable draws at both Manchester United and Bolton.

The youngsters and fringe players will be given their chance once again at Fulham as he fields what is effectively a complete second senior team.

'We have practically done that,' he said. 'We have made nine or 10 changes in each game and still put on very, very respectable performances, and I'm looking for one tomorrow from what will probably be one of the youngest teams in our history.

'The kids coming through have allowed my to rotate and rest players and make sure on Wednesday we go in fresh with energy.

'I've been delighted with the response of the players so far this week. Against Everton, the kids performed well, Manchester United was a fantastic performance and Bolton was another good point.

'We have got to pick a side tomorrow against Fulham. It will be a young side - we have got to make sure, we can't take any risks for Wednesday.

'Wednesday's will be the most important team I have picked in my five years here.'

Skipper Gareth Southgate and striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink both trained for the first time this morning since damaging hamstrings in the dramatic UEFA Cup semi-final victory over Steaua Bucharest, while Mark Viduka has recovered from his thigh problem.

Keeper Mark Schwarzer is also back in training wearing a protective mask over his fractured cheekbone, and Boro are hopeful UEFA will pass him to play in Eindhoven on the day of the game.

However, none of the four will figure tomorrow, when 21-year-old keeper Ross Turnbull will hope to keep his place after impressing on his senior debut and injury-plagued striker Malcolm Christie will be itching for more football.