McClaren gives clues to England squad

SINCE stepping up into the England head coach's job in the summer after the World Cup in Germany, Steve McClaren has set out to do things his way. During a specially-arranged briefing for selected regional newspapers McClaren told EADT football writer Derek Davis his thoughts on the probable and possible England international players who will be named in his squad today to face Spain at Old Trafford next Wednesday.

By Derek Davis

SINCE stepping up into the England head coach's job in the summer after the World Cup in Germany, Steve McClaren has set out to do things his way. During a specially-arranged briefing for selected regional newspapers McClaren told EADT football writer Derek Davis his thoughts on the probable and possible England international players who will be named in his squad today to face Spain at Old Trafford next Wednesday. He also explained why Darren Bent has yet to play in a competitive match

STEVE McClaren revealed how he and his backroom team have identified a core of 16 players who are virtual definites to be named in today's squad of 28 that have been drawn from a pool of 50 possibles.

While all the players are constantly monitored, McClaren focuses on a group of eight key players while other coaches and scouts take in games involving the others.


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Darren Bent is among the top 30 players but McClaren is in no rush to blood the Charlton striker in a fully-competitive match - thus triggering a £200,000 bonus payment for Ipswich Town.

It is more likely that Bent, when fully fit, will be in Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad that plays in the European Championships in Holland this summer, rather than spending time with the full squad.

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McClaren said: “Darren seems to have been around for a long time and scoring goals at all levels. He has years ahead of him and years to progress.

“People forget he is still eligible for the Under-21s and I would rather he played the games than bring him into senior squads at the moment. He is one for the future.”

McClaren had not been aware that Ipswich Town would benefit to the tune of £400,000 once Bent had played two competitive games for England - £200,000 for each - until I told him.

He laughed: “I know now, but it doesn't come into it.”

The England boss also showed he is prepared to look outside the Premiership when he revealed he is considering promoting David Nugent and will take in Preston's FA Cup tie against Manchester City at Deepdale.

And McClaren talked about competition for places in midfield with Kieron Dyer and Joey Barton likely to be involved, but not Bolton's Kevin Nolan.

He said: “We're always looking for talent coming through. Joey Barton is letting his football do the talking. Competition is very strong in midfield but certainly Joey is one we are interested in.”

McClaren said: “Nolan is in the 50 players. He's similar to Barton in that he's getting forward, scoring goals and certainly one player in the last two or three months we've been looking at very closely.”

McClaren admits he was hugely impressed by Barton's young team-mate, Micah Richards who made his debut against Holland and is almost certain to be included.

He added: “You can always tell with a player at England international level whether they have a chance of making it at the very first training session. Micah came in and was very comfortable and it was as good an England debut I have seen. He still has a lot to learn and a long way to go but he looks to have a great future.”

While McClaren is full of admiration for Nicky Weaver's comeback, he reasoned that there is a glut of good English goalkeepers, such as the re-emerging David James, Paul Robinson, Chris Kirkland and Ben Foster, the latter tipped by his ex-boss Sir Alex Ferguson as the long-term future England keeper.

Gareth Barry's form has also caught the eye of the England boss and the former Middlesbrough boss is also well aware of how Jonathan Woodgate is impressing and the rejuvenated form of Sol Campbell at Portsmouth.

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