Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hargreaves Centre Stage as McClaren Does Right Thing for Gerrard

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hargreaves Centre Stage as McClaren Does Right Thing for Gerrard

Article excerpt

Byline: By Matt Barlow

Steve McClaren admits the World Cup heroics of Owen Hargreaves convinced him to reshuffle the England midfield.

Hargreaves will partner Frank Lampard at the heart of McClaren's first team with Steven Gerrard switched to the right.

Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch will lead the attack in Dean Ashton's absence but the England boss will look for a reaction from his new-look midfield.

McClaren said: "The key thing that came out of the World Cup was the emergence of Owen Hargreaves and everyone will agree because he was voted our player of the World Cup.

"We've always talked about having someone in that midfield who can sit and hold and it's a natural role for Owen to do.

"The emergence of Owen has just changed things a little bit and I think improved us."

Gerrard and Lampard have never produced their prolific Premiership form in England shirts.

McClaren discussed Gerrard's game at length with Rafael Benitez last week and has decided to move the Liverpool skipper out wide against the Greeks.

The England boss said: "Stevie's played on the right-hand side a lot of time for Liverpool and scored 23 goals last season.

"I had a very good chat with Rafael Benitez last week just talking about Steve and his role at Liverpool and trying to transfer that over into the England team.

"I spoke with Stevie and he is delighted with that. He will play anywhere for England.

"I'm trying to get blend and balance in the short space of time we've got to plan and work for this game

"We've only got two sessions and I wanted to put the players in positions they play for their clubs.

"That's the key to it. Hopefully we will get the cohesion flowing." On the left, Stewart Downing will start his first England game.

Chelsea's Joe Cole is injured but McClaren's insistence that he wants to play with balance and width must cast doubts about Cole's future role in the team.

The new England boss will start his reign with a traditional 4-4-2 system like the one used so often by Sven-Goran Eriksson before he abandoned it at the World Cup and switched to a five-man midfield. …

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