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Football: Our new-found togetherness will prove key; IT'S JUDGEMENT DAY FOR McCLAREN'S MEN Terry confident England can overcome Russians.

Byline: By JIM VAN WIJK

England v Russia Group E, tonight, 8pm

ENGLAND (from): Robinson, James, Carson, Brown, A Cole, Ferdinand, Terry, Lescott, Neville, Richards, Shorey, Barry, Bentley, Gerrard, Carrick, J Cole, Downing, Wright-Phillips, Young, Crouch, Defoe, Owen, Johnson, Heskey, Smith.

RUSSIA (from): Malafeev, Shunin, Anyukov, Berezutskiy, Berezutskiy, Ignachevish, Kolodin, Taranov, Bilyaletdinov, Budyanskiy, Bystrov, Vorobyev, Zhirkov, Zyryanov, Semshov, Torbinskiy, Arshavin, Kerzhakov, Pavlyuchenko, Pogrebnyak, Saenko, Sychev.

REFEREE: Martin Hansson (Swe)

BETTING (bet365.com)

Match odds: England 8/15, Russia 6/1, Draw 11/4. First goalscorer: Michael Owen 4/1, Emile Heskey 13/2, Alexander Kerzhakov 9/1

CAPTAIN John Terry maintains a new-found "togetherness" and a touch of "arrogance" can help England shake off their tag as quarter-final also-rans to make an impact on major international tournaments once again.

Steve McClaren's men produced arguably the most impressive display of his reign in defeating Israel 3-0 at Wembley on Saturday to spark life back into a flagging Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

But the visit of Russia - coached by one-time England target Guus Hiddink - tonight will present a much sterner test.

Nevertheless, Terry, 26, concurs with the belief expressed by Liverpool's Steven Gerrard that England have the talent to finally live up to expectations.

"I can totally understand where Stevie is coming from when you look around the dressing room," said Terry, the Chelsea skipper.

"You see these guys playing week in and week out in the Champions League and at the top level, in the big competitions and they are playing very well and getting to the latter stages.

"The togetherness in the squad is key for England. That can be a massive thing for us.

"We finally got that against Israel at this level. Everyone was gelling together and it needs to be a little bit more like that every single game.

"Maybe we have not had that in the past, but it is certainly something we are looking to build upon once we do get through the group and go on to the competition - to have that little bit of arrogance and really go that step further."

Despite their impressive victory over an ordinary Israel side, England's safe passage to next summer's finals in Austria and Switzerland is by no means secure.

Terry, though, feels England often produce their best form when up against the odds.

"The pressure of the vital games certainly does that for us," he said.

"We now come into this game against a Russia side who are very attacking, quick going forwards and it is going to be very tough.

"It was the game plan to put Israel right on the back foot, not to give them any time to play and we did not give them any chance to settle in - that will be the same again on Wednesday.

"Once we get this one out of the way and hopefully with the three points, things will be looking good."

Terry, though, knows all the efforts against Israel will count for little should England come unstuck against Russia.

"You cannot help but feel high after a game like that. However, the manager quickly brings you down and we move on to the next game - we cannot stay in the clouds about that one result," the England captain said.

"Okay, so we have had one good performance, but we need four good results and four good performances.

"This will be another big test, and I am sure we are all up for it.

"I think we will need to raise our game against Russia, they will be a much more organised side.

"We have to rise to the challenge once again. The confidence is certainly there, that we can play to our best, but we need to maintain this level of consistency."

The main selection dilemma for Mc- Claren would seem torest around whether to bring back Peter Crouch, who was suspended against Israel, or keep faith with Wigan striker Emile Heskey who played well in support of Michael Owen after a long absence from the international side.

With Owen Hargreaves once again unavailable because of injury, it looks as if Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry will get another chance to impress in centre midfield alongside Liverpool captain Gerrard.

Terry, however, insists whomever is involved in the final 18 tonightmust be up for the challenge.

"It is a difficult decision, but that is for the manager and nobody else," said the Chelsea centre-half.

"We had some players who had not played for a while, but came in and did verywell.We all know that it is going to be a massive night for all of us.

"Once again, we have all got to be at our best, not just the midfield, but the defence and the attack too, as well as everybody on the bench.

"We all have to be ready and willing because it could be one of the subs who come on in the last five minutes who change the game."

Terry believes the players are now beginning to reap the benefits of Steve McClaren's "hands-on" approach.

"There are little similarities between Steve and (Chelsea manager Jose) Mourinho. They like to get involved in training and do it all themselves," said Terry, who has won the Premier League twice under the Portuguese coach.

"That is a big part because I don't think it works too well when the manager stands on the side and gets someone else to do it.

"When the manager is hands on himself like Steve, then the manager holds his hands up if anything goes wrong.

"They say it is them who made the mistake because they have been making their decisions all week.

"When they are out there all week youget the camaraderie, you get a nice buzz and togetherness. Steve's team meetings are very enthusiastic.

"His training sessions are very good, very sharp and very well organised.

"We don't just come away and do the same stuff over and over again.

"He varies it well."

CAPTION(S):

Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand and Joleon Lescott (main) in training yesterday; Peter Crouch and team-mates warm up (inset left) while keeper Paul Robinson (right) practises his kicking ahead of the crucial qualifier with Russia tonight; Joe Cole (above left) takes on the Israel defence during England's 3-0 win on Saturday, in which Michael Owen and Emile Heskey (right) formed an effective strike partnership; John Terry
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 12, 2007
Words:1066
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