Jim's warning to England boss

BLUES' manager Jim Magilton has warned England boss Steve McClaren that his team faces a difficult pitch and a hostile atmosphere at Russia's Luzhniki Stadium tomorrow night.

By Derek Davis

BLUES' manager Jim Magilton has warned England boss Steve McClaren that his team faces a difficult pitch and a hostile atmosphere at Russia's Luzhniki Stadium tomorrow night.

Magilton played at the arena for Ipswich in the UEFA Cup 2001 and remembers what a tough place it was to go, although Town beat Torpedo Moscow 2-1 that night.

Now his former Oxford United team-mate McClaren takes England there needing a win to qualify for next year's European Champion-ship finals.

Magilton said: “Even though there were not many supporters in the stadium, and we had about 900 that night, they made an unbelievable noise. This will be a sell-out so there will be a cacophony of sound, with a boisterous and even intimidating atmosphere.“It will be fearsome although the England players have so much experience between them that it won't daunt them.”

Finidi George and Marcus Stewart scored to ease Town through to the next round of the UEFA Cup that September night and the pitch was in a decent condition, but has subsequently been replaced with a field turf, similar to the one used on the practice pitch at Portman Road.

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Magilton said: “When we played there it was grass but now the surface will be tricky and they will have to get to grips with that pretty sharpish.

“It was a fantastic stadium and they will be greeted with Lev Yashin coming in. The whole build up, getting through the traffic getting to the game will be frantic and the Russians will try to unsettle them.

“The pitch will make a difference because the Russians are used to it and it will be a one-off experience for the England lads.

“We play on a similar pitch outside Portman Road and up at the dome at the training ground. It is nice every now and then but to play 90 minutes under pressure will make it tricky.”

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