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Crouch delighted by fans' U-turn McClaren denies player-power jibe
(1 day later)
Liverpool striker Peter Crouch says his recent scoring spree for England has changed the national perception of him as a footballer. England coach Steve McClaren says there is no chance his players would ever pick the team, ahead of their Euro 2008 qualifier against Macedonia.
Crouch has scored 11 goals for England in 2006 and will play in the Euro 2008 qualifier with Macedonia on Saturday. At a news conference, McClaren reacted angrily to a suggestion the players had forced him to scrap plans for a 3-5-2.
The 25-year-old said: "Fans I meet in the street are complimentary to me and I seem to be turning people around. "The players do not pick the team and I can categorically say that the players did not have a meeting," said McClaren.
"People have seen more of me and can see I can play. In the past, they would make a judgement without seeing me." Defender Gary Neville added: "We have not had any input on how we will play or what we will do against Macedonia."
onClick="javascript:launchAVConsoleStory('5407864'); return false;" href="">News conference: Peter Crouch onClick="javascript:launchAVConsoleStory('5407896'); return false;" href="">News conference: Stewart Downing onClick="javascript:launchAVConsoleStory('5413250'); return false;" href="">Interview: England coach Steve McClaren onClick="javascript:launchAVConsoleStory('5414002'); return false;" href="">News conference: England defender Gary Neville
Crouch has often been the target of criticism in his career to date, with people pointing to his 6ft 7in frame as a reason why he should not play for England. McClaren confirmed he had tried out a 3-5-2 formation in training this week but said he wanted the players to be adaptable during games.
He failed to score in his first 18 games for Liverpool last season after a £7m move from Southampton but since then has bagged 27 goals in 48 games for club and country. "I, along with the coaches, pick the team, the tactics, the formations and the gameplan," added McClaren.
"When you are playing at a high-profile club like Liverpool and also at international level, there are a lot of chances for people to see what you can do," he added. I am sure Wayne Rooney will explode back to form Steve McClaren
"I'm playing Champions League football, we're challenging for things at club level and I am playing international football. "Yes we will ask the players but you can tell if it flows, if it's cohesive when you are in training and it has been.
"I'm doing okay on those stages and hopefully I can keep that going. "We have to look at different ways of doing things, look at new ideas.
He's getting back to England form and I can see the class coming through Stewart Downing on Jonathan Woodgate "That may be defending set-pieces, attacking set-pieces, different ways of playing within a 4-4-2 or different formations.
"Sometimes, I do feel as though I need to do a little bit more than others but that's something I have to live with. "It's no secret that this week we've had two sessions working on a 3-5-2 using different personnel.
"As long as I'm doing well and scoring goals, I don't think people can criticise." "We may see it this weekend, we may see it on Wednesday, we may see it in the future, who knows?"
Meanwhile, England winger Stewart Downing believes Middlesbrough team-mate Jonathan Woodgate will soon earn a recall to the national side. Neville is adamant whatever line-up England use at Old Trafford is down to McClaren and his backroom team as they search for a third successive win in their group.
Woodgate has been in sensational form since joining Boro on loan from Real Madrid and Downing says England boss Steve McClaren is watching the situation closely. "Of course, we are talking to the manager and the coaches regularly about things which occur in training sessions," he said.
"The way Jonathan has been playing has been first class for us," said Downing. "But, regarding people saying we will influence what system we will play, that isn't happening - and hasn't happened. I don't understand where that has come from."
"But I spoke to Woody and he thinks he needs a few more games under his belt before he plays for England and I think Steve McClaren is in agreement. Meanwhile, McClaren is confident Wayne Rooney will emerge from his dip in form and return to his best in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.
"But he is getting back towards England form. The manager has already stressed he was dead close to being in this squad. Rooney has been a low-key figure for Manchester United this term, but the 20-year-old will be back in McClaren's starting line-up against Macedonia.
"He has only played four or five games but, if he keeps playing the way he is, I've got no doubt he will be here. McClaren said: "I am sure Wayne will explode back to form, and let's hope it is on Saturday against Macedonia.
"I can see the class coming through. With the way he trains and plays, you can see he is a top player." "He is a world-class footballer who, importantly, wants to get better.
"Wayne Rooney will always be under scrutiny in every detail of everything he does. If he mis-controls a ball he will be criticised, but that is just part and parcel of football.
"He has got great strengths and he is a great asset to the team and to the squad."