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England boss McClaren defends Austria friendly

England boss Steve McClaren has refuted suggestions that Friday's friendly against Austria is pointless.

The match in Vienna was arranged as part of the build-up to the potentially crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia next week.

. Russia travel to Israel on Saturday knowing victory will virtually seal their place at Euro 2008 and end England's hopes of qualification.

But the under-fire boss remains defiant the game against Josef Hickersberger's side is necessary to deflect attention away from the Croatia game.

"The game is there for two reasons," he said. "Firstly, we needed some kind of preparation for Croatia, so we had a chance to look at a few things.

"Also, if we do have players like David Beckham and Ashley Cole, or others who have not played all that often for their clubs, it is an opportunity to give them a game.

"It would also be good to make sure the 10 days is not solely focused on Croatia.

"Nevertheless, I wouldn't say what we do on Friday will definitely be what we do on Wednesday."

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Tribal Football Staff

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