Vol. 5 Num 994 Sun. March 18, 2007  

McClaren hails Carragher

Low-profile Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has been praised to the heights by England manager Steve McClaren as the team prepares for forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Carragher looks set to come in at left back against Israel in Tel-Aviv on Saturday, though he normally plays in central defence for his club.

England's strong central defensive pairing of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have been instrumental in keeping Carragher, who has made 32 appearances for his country, out of his favourite position.

However, having watched most of his recent performances -- particularly the 29-year-old's superb displays against Manchester United and Barcelona -- McClaren would have no hesitation in giving Carragher the responsibility of replacing the suspended Ashley Cole.

"Jamie is one of those unsung heroes every team needs," said McClaren after naming his squad for the Euro 2008 qualifier. "He is very professional and very conscientious, someone who quietly gets on with his job and is probably only missed when he is not in the side.

"His performances against Manchester United and Barcelona were fantastic and I am really delighted with his form."

As expected, McClaren has omitted Joey Barton, Gareth Barry and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who all featured against Spain.

The England coach is facing a worrying few days, though, with 13 of his party due to be involved in FA Cup quarterfinal replays on Monday, threatening an injury nightmare which could completely wreck his planning for the game.

At least Owen Hargreaves is available for the first time since September after recovering from his broken leg.