FA back under-fire England coach McClaren

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LONDON, Oct 18 (Reuters) England coach Steve McClaren got some much-needed support from the FA today despite a costly 2-1 defeat by Russia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

''Of course (we are behind him)...his job is to get the players ready for a friendly against Austria and then Croatia,'' FA chief executive Brian Barwick told Sky Sports.

England face Euro 2008 co-hosts Austria on Nov. 16 in Vienna before hosting Group E leaders Croatia at Wembley Stadium five days later in their last qualifier.

''We are still in this group...we are not in the position in the group we wanted to be, everybody accepts that. We do need others to do a job of work for us but Steve has to get on with his job and we're behind him.'' Croatia top Group E with 26 points from 10 matches, England are second with 23 but have only one match remaining and Russia have 21, also from 10 games.

England need Israel to do them a favour by avoiding defeat against Russia next month. If the Russians win that match they are almost certain to finish above England because their last qualifier is against group whipping boys Andorra.

''We need to gather our thoughts and then push it on to the Croatia game....Steve will have to concentrate on England versus Croatia and we know he will,'' added Barwick.

The last manager who failed to qualify England for a major finals was Graham Taylor, who lost his job when his team missed out on the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.

REUTERS BJR KN1830

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