Derek Davis' Football Chatter

LET me be the first to say that England will qualify for the European Championships finals even if they are making hard work of it right now. There is a danger that England won't, given the current position, but with seven games left, and a canny fixture schedule of home games to come, Steve McClaren's side can do it - but only if players start doing what they are capable of doing and take responsibility for their own actions.

LET me be the first to say that England will qualify for the European Championships finals even if they are making hard work of it right now.

There is a danger that England won't, given the current position, but with seven games left, and a canny fixture schedule of home games to come, Steve McClaren's side can do it - but only if players start doing what they are capable of doing and take responsibility for their own actions.

For example, why can't Wayne Rooney play as effectively for England as he does for Manchester United - yet David Healy is even more deadly when he pulls on the green of Northern Ireland than at club level?

Healy did what England, and Rooney in particular, could not do on Saturday and that was score. Not just the one for the Manchester United reject, who was once a team-mate of George O'Callaghan at Port Vale, but a hat-trick.


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Okay, it was against Liechtenstein but it is still international football and it takes his tally to 27 goals in 55 for the Ulsterman, whereas Rooney has not found the net for the Three Lions in three years.

Perhaps it is the make-up of the team and Steve McClaren invites pressure on himself by playing so many players out of position just to try and accommodate everyone.

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The left side remains a problem but by playing Aaron Lennon there does no one any favours and the sooner he decides on either Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard to play in central midfield, rather than try to play both with one out wide, the better the balance of the side will be.

But it is the inability to cope with stubborn defences, such as the one in Israel, through a lack of guile that is the root of the problem.

England can batter teams and with better finishing, they might have been comfortable winners in Tel Aviv but unless they learn to coax teams out and give themselves more room up front to be able to have better chances then they will not enjoy the success of an Italy or France.

But ultimately it is down to the players when they are on the pitch to produce the goods.

It is not enough for these superstars to be shrinking violets on the big stage.

Of course expectations are high, perhaps too high by supporters who can't accept that maybe England are not as good as they like to believe, and certain individuals are not really the world class players too many sycophants would have them believe.

But England fans can expect a good win over Andorra tomorrow, and while we are told there are no easy games in European football any more, we can expect a team ranked sixth in the world to beat a team 157 places lower than them by a decent margin.

WAY to go AFC Wimbledon, who have had their massive 18-point deduction reduced to just three points by the FA appeals panel.

The Dons may now be six points behind leaders Chelmsford City in their bid to carry on up the pyramid but it is better than the original punishment after fielding Jermaine Darlington without international clearance after he signed from Cardiff City.

This column joined in the appeal signatures on a petition fighting the original points reduction and Tony Blair spoke about it last week when an Early Day Motion was backed by 86 MPs.

TALKING of petitions, a Plymouth Argyle fan has contacted me asking to publicise a fight some Pilgrim fans are backing.

It seems that HMS Plymouth, a frigate that saw action in the Falklands War, is in danger of being scrapped after losing its berth in the Wirral due to redevelopment.

Former crew and those with an interest in Naval heritage are keen to save the ship and even get it positioned in Plymouth as a tourist attraction.

Gus Rabbit is asking supporters to go to join the petition to No. 10 and it can be reached via the HMS Plymouth association website.

With the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War approaching fast it would be appropriate if people manned the guns in support.

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