Steven Gerrard believes skipper John Terry will have a 'big role' to play ensuring England qualify for Euro 2008 by avoiding defeat against Croatia - even though he will play no part in the game at Wembley tomorrow evening.
Terry joined in training with his England team-mates for the first time on Tuesday since undergoing a knee operation a month ago in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat by Russia in Moscow.
It is too soon for the Chelsea captain to be considered for a recall against Croatia with England needing a point to secure a place in the finals in Austria and Switzerland next summer.
But Gerrard feels Terry will have a massive influence in the dressing room before the kick off with his sheer presence and words of encouragement and wisdom for the inexperienced players in the side.
Gerrard said: 'It will be a really special night for me personally if I was the captain when we have qualified for the Euro 2008 finals.
'But John Terry has played a big part over the last few years to help us hopefully get there. We will all enjoy it together if it happens. It is not about me personally.
'It is about achieving qualification as a team and as a squad. We want to do it for John. We need a big performance on Wednesday for all the players who have contributed over the last few years.
'I spoke to John last night when he joined up again with the squad, which gave us all a lift, and he is desperate to be in Austria and Switzerland in the summer.
'I am sure John will have some words in the dressing room. He has got a big part to play even though he won't be out there on the pitch.
'He will help the younger boys. He will have a lot to say. He is desperate to play in Euro 2008.
'It is important all the experienced players, who have been there before, help the younger lads. Their experience will be vital in that dressing room before the game.'
Gerrard admits England cannot afford to freeze if they are to make the most of the lifeline handed them by Israel at the weekend.
And he is calling for Steve McClaren's side to repeat the kind of performance and commitment which earned them a goalless draw with Turkey in Istanbul four years ago and clinched a place in the Euro 2004 finals.
He said: 'We all remember what a massive game that was. We need another Istanbul type of show. We certainly need that togetherness and spirit we showed on that night.
'We can't afford to freeze. If we freeze on Wednesday night, we will come unstuck. We need a big performance. We need players to deliver individually and as a team.
'There has been enough said. To be honest I've been sick of being interviewed at times. Now let's go and do our talking on the pitch.'
There have been question marks raised as to whether David Beckham should retain his place in the side after an ineffective performance against Austria in Vienna on Friday.
But Gerrard is confident the Los Angeles Galaxy player can still make a significant contribution for his country.
He said: 'Becks is still international class. He has still got a lot to offer. For me, he is still the best crosser of the ball out there.
'Whether he starts or is a substitute, his experience and quality will be vital to us.'