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Rediff.com  » Sports » England to fight for Sven: Gerrard

England to fight for Sven: Gerrard

September 07, 2004 11:03 IST

England will be going out to beat Poland in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier to take the heat off manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, says midfielder Steven Gerrard.

England's 2-2 draw with Austria in Saturday's opening qualifier, after leading 2-0 with 20 minutes to go, has added to the pressure on Eriksson since their Euro 2004 exit.

Though the Swede faces an increasingly hostile British press, Gerrard: "The players love Sven as a manager and we are 100 percent behind him.

"We feel he is the right man to stay as England manager. But we do understand if things don't go right on the pitch it is him who is going to take the majority of the blame.

"We as players feel that is unfair because it is us who go out and try and do the job.

"I think that gives us an extra incentive to try and support the manager by doing better."

Though England face a Poland team who have three points on the board after beating Northern Ireland 3-0 in their Group Six opener on Saturday, Gerrard said: "We are not too worried about the situation because we know we can put it right."

However, Gerrard believes England's squandered lead against Austria was a reminder they need to find the killer instinct and finish off opponents when they get the chance.

England were 1-0 up before going out to both Brazil at the 2002 World Cup and Portugal at Euro 2004, each time at the tournament's quarter-final stages.

"Getting knocked out by Brazil in Japan and losing to Portugal in June showed we've still got to prove we can improve to get on to the next level," said the Liverpool captain.

"If we are to progress past quarter-finals in these big competitions, we need to learn...how to deal with being ahead in games and finishing teams off.

"We have got to keep our shape and keep doing the things we were when we were leading, but it is a mental thing as well," said Gerrard, who scored England's second goal on Saturday.

"When you have let games slip before, it does creep in mentally."

Gerrard pulled out early of Monday's training session in Vienna as a precautionary measure. He underwent a fitness test before being cleared to face Austria after a groin problem.

Trevor Huggins
Source:
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