Confident McClaren adds Bent to squad

November 18, 2007

Tottenham striker Darren Bent has been drafted into the England squad for the final Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia on Wednesday night.

Steve McClaren is confident that despite injuries to his first-choice strikers Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney and favoured centre-halves Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, he has the players to get the required result against Croatia.

Bent, who joined Spurs for £16million from Charlton this summer, has scored two in three games after a slow start to his White Hart Lane career.

He comes into the squad after Owen was ruled out by a thigh strain suffered in the friendly victory over Austria on Friday. Also back in the squad is Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves after the former Bayern Munich man overcame tendinitis.

England need just a point to book their place in next summer's European Championships.

McClaren told Sky Sports News: 'I said after the game on Friday there is enough in that dressing room, there are good enough players to get the result we need. I have called up Darren Bent and Owen Hargreaves will join us.

'Owen has good experience and he is playing regularly for United.'

Asked how his team would now approach Wednesday night's match, he said: 'Expectations I know are great, but you can't do it without the fans.

'It's about sticking together, being positive and getting behind the team. We have got no excuses, we have to perform, and it would be a great boost to get the media, fans and people on the street behind us.'

The question was then raised whether McClaren would stand down if England lose on Wednesday night, a result which almost certainly mean they fail to qualify.

'I'm not going to discuss that. It's about the build-up and the preparation.'

McClaren revealed he had missed the last-gasp goal which may have saved his job after Israel handed England a Euro 2008 lifeline courtesy of their 2-1 win over Russia.

McClaren said: 'Unbelievable. I had slipped to the bathroom but heard a big scream from my two boys and gathered from that, unbelievably, that Israel had got the winner, it didn't seem like that when the game was poised at 1-1.

'But that's football, we are grateful. Israel are a proud nation.

'Not that I watched the majority of it but the key moments when it was a case of an agonising 95 minutes but getting the right result and we end up right exactly what I thought at the beginning - needing a result against Croatia to go through.'

McClaren also admitted England have nowhere to hide after they were handed the unexpected reprieve.

He added: 'The players are all buoyed with the result and the opportunity they have. I think the feeling is we've got a great chance now, it's up to us, there are no excuses.'

Although the Three Lions only need a point to qualify, McClaren insists the team will approach the game positively.

'Qualification is the key and I always felt we would have to win that game, but all we need to do is draw.

'We have to be positive, we have to go out there and attack, be up tempo. We have to get the balance right and make sure we are positive.'