Gerrard rises above the crowd on day of boos

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LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) England internationals were the target of boos up and down the country in a backlash to the national team's failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

Defeat by Croatia on Wednesday meant England will miss a major tournament for the first time since 1994 and fans were quick to voice their disapproval.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard was heckled at St James' Park but produced a majestic display in his side's 3-0 victory.

Scott Carson, Aston Villa's goalkeeper who blundered against Croatia, and his team mate Gareth Barry were jeered by Middlesbrough fans at the Riverside.

Chelsea's England representatives Frank Lampard, Shaun Wright-Phillips and John Terry were all given a hard time in their victory at Derby County.

Gerrard, who opened the scoring and was involved in Liverpool's two other goals, said the criticism was expected and justified.

''Me and all the other England lads have got to take the criticism,'' he told Sky Sports yesterday.

''We have let the country down by not qualifying, so from now until we get it right we are going to be criticised. I've got enough experience to know that.

''I've got some big games for Liverpool coming up. I've got to put the England stuff under the carpet for a while and try to play well for Liverpool.

''Then, when we meet up with England next time we've got to come up with a reaction for the country, and hopefully I'll be part of that.'' Villa manager Martin O'Neil, who has ruled himself out of the vacant England job after the sacking of Steve McClaren, praised Carson who was badly at fault for Croatia's opening goal on his competitive international debut.

''In the first few minutes he skewed one a bit but after that he was magnificent,'' O'Neill told the BBC. ''He did great for us today and I'm delighted for him.

''He would have been concerned today because he was very disappointed on Wednesday...but it's gone now and he has to move on.'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had words of comfort for England's high-profile failures.

''The disappointment was so high that the (booing) was understandable,'' said Wenger.

''England has world class players, there are some points they have to correct, but I want to remind you that in 1994 France didn't qualify with players like Petit, Blanc and Deschamps and they were world class players.'' Reuters TB VP0448

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