Gerrard & Robbo to start
Pair pencilled in for crucial Euro 2008 qualifier
By Peter O'Rourke. Last Updated: 07/09/07 5:33pm
Gerrard: Passed fit
England boss Steve McClaren has confirmed Steven Gerrard and Paul Robinson will start against Israel on Saturday.
However, McClaren will make a late decision on the fitness of Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves who is struggling with a thigh injury.
Gerrard's participation has been in doubt all week as he struggles to recover from a broken toe he picked up last month.
The Liverpool skipper took part in training on Friday and he has been given the all-clear to start at Wembley on Saturday.
"He has trained twice without an injection and if he plays tomorrow like he played this morning in training then everyone will be delighted.
"That's the kind of performance that we need and it's a big boost for everybody, most of all Stevie G because he desperately wants to play in this game. He came through it with no problems whatsoever."
Asked if he was pencilled in for tomorrow's game, McClaren replied: "I can more or less say yes."
It remains to be seen if Gerrard will require a pain-killing injection before the game with Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez raising his concerns over his skipper's fitness.
Hargreaves, who sat out training on Friday, is set to undergo a late fitness test on Saturday before deciding whether or not he can be involved in the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier.
"Owen Hargreaves will have a fitness test tomorrow morning. We are leaving it as late as possible to make a decision after that test to see if he can play in the afternoon," added McClaren.
"He is another one who wants to play every game. He wants to play tomorrow and we will give him every opportunity to do that but we will leave it upto the players and medics to make that decision."
Tottenham goalkeeper Robinson has been handed a vote of confidence by McClaren after his below-par display against Germany recently.
Robinson's place was believed to be under threat after he was substituted for David James in the defeat to Germany.
However, Robinson will remain in goal for the visit of Israel with James providing back-up on the bench.
"Paul Robinson will be in goal," he said. "That was a decision I made two or three days after the game on reflection and on the reaction of Paul Robinson over the last few games and especially this week in training.
"It was just as I expected it to be, very professional this week. He has done very, very well. He has always had my trust and confidence and I'm sticking with him."
McClaren also welcomed the return to fitness of Michael Owen and he has backed his strikers to hit the goal trail.
"All the strikers have done well," continued McClaren.
"The biggest boost we have got is that Michael Owen is fit because he's a big player for us.
"But the main thing is, who is going to supply, get the ball into the key areas where Michael works.
"The big games are when we have to deliver and generally when it comes to the big games, the big games in qualifying, the players have delivered."