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Hungry England set for goal feast against Andorra

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Aug 31 (Reuters) England should celebrate their first competitive match under Steve McClaren with a goal bonanza against Andorra in their opening Euro 2008 qualifier on Saturday.

England beat European champions Greece 4-0 less than three weeks ago in McClaren's first game since replacing his former boss Sven-Goran Eriksson and the new manager will expect more of the same at Old Trafford.

Faced with a tiny principality team ranked 132nd in the world, England's winning margin for their opening Group E game will be the main item of interest for fans who have yet to fully digest their team's World Cup exit.

The biggest change of the McClaren era is the exclusion of former captain David Beckham, whose place on the right flank against Greece was successfully given to Steven Gerrard and whose armband went to John Terry, who celebrated with a goal.

Gerrard revelled in a role he has occupied for Liverpool, having previously been made to share the central midfield duties with Frank Lampard in an unconvincing tandem under Eriksson.

The Greece game signalled a goalscoring return to form for Lampard, who was given a free rein to get forward with Owen Hargreaves providing cover in the holding role.

Chelsea's top scorer for the past two seasons, Lampard was probably England's most disappointing performer at the World Cup and will be out to make amends in a qualifying campaign that continues on Wednesday in Macedonia.

COLE OUT With Joe Cole out through injury, there should again be room for Stewart Downing on the left flank, while Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe should lead the attack in the absence of the injured Michael Owen and suspended Wayne Rooney.

Now becoming a crowd favourite, Crouch scored twice against the Greeks to extend a remarkable scoring record to eight goals in his last eight games for his country.

Fellow strikers Andy Johnson and Darren Bent could make second half appearances.

Only one change is expected in defence, where right back Gary Neville has been sidelined by injury and his brother Phil is likely to take over.

Terry should partner Rio Ferdinand in central defence after the latter's toe injury scare, though he may be saved for Macedonia, while Ashley Cole will look after the left side.

Andorra are probably the softest possible introduction to competitive football for McClaren, but England will still need to do more than simply turn up on Saturday.

''Andorra is a potential banana skin for us because we are expected to win comfortably but we still need to put in a decent performance,'' Gerrard told the FA's Web site.

''Football is only easy after the game. Hopefully we will get a few goals and say it was an easy win afterwards.'' Probable team: Paul Robinson; Phil Neville, Rio Ferdinand or Jamie Carragher, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves, Frank Lampard, Stewart Downing; Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe REUTERS PDS PM1911

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