England focused on performance not pitch says Ferdinand

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MOSCOW, Oct 16 (Reuters) England will focus on getting the result they need rather than worry about an artificial pitch when they meet Russia in their pivotal Euro 2008 qualifier tomorrow.

Coach Steve McClaren and senior players like Rio Ferdinand will make no excuses ahead of the game at the Luzhniki Olympic stadium, where an England win would guarantee them a place in the tournament in Austria and Switzerland next year.

England, who arrived in a snowy Moscow last night, could be boosted by the return of captain John Terry, who is nursing a knee injury but came through a training session unscathed before leaving for Russia.

Although he missed Saturday's 3-0 win over Estonia, his chances of playing have improved over the last three days.

Russia, beaten 3-0 by England at Wembley on September.12, must win on Wednesday to maintain any realistic chance of qualifying for next year's finals.

While the pitch may give the Russians an advantage, Ferdinand says the English players are not worried about the surface.

''We have trained on an artificial pitch in the past few days so we know what it is all about,'' he said.

''We haven't played on the pitch before but it is not something we will be worrying about. We are just going to play our own game.

''Russia have more experience on the pitch in Moscow, but I think our quality can come through, we will apply ourselves and make sure we win the game in the right manner.'' Coach McClaren has also played down talk that the pitch could affect England's performance, saying he had ''absolutely no worries about it at all''.

With the qualifying campaign reaching its final stages, Croatia lead the group with 26 points and two matches to play.

They are followed by England on 23 points with two matches remaining and Russia, who have 18 points with three matches to go.

If Russia fail to win, Croatia, who do not play tomorrow will be assured a place in the finals.

A win for England will also guarantee them their spot ahead of their final match against Croatia at Wembley next month.

REUTERS BJR RK1528

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