England coach Steve McClaren says he “fully expects” the team to reach Euro 2008, despite qualification now being out of their hands.
If Russia beat Israel and Andorra, and Croatia earn a point in Macedonia or at Wembley on Wednesday, England will fail to qualify for next summer’s finals.
But McClaren told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I fully expect us to have qualified for the campaign.
“There is still a long way to go and a lot of events to unfold.”
England’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s finals rest on Russia failing to win in Israel on Saturday.
If Russia draw, then England will have to beat group leaders Croatia in their last qualifying game, at Wembley on Wednesday. But if Russia lose to Israel, then a point would suffice for McClaren’s side against Croatia.
“It is hypothetical talking about the future when there are so many events still involved,” said McClaren.
“Hopefully, the result will go right for us on Saturday night (between Israel and Russia) and we will be able to qualify when we play Croatia.
“The first six to eight months were very difficult, the last seven we’ve made great progress and the performances have been very good, and everyone’s seen the progress made,” he said.
“Look at the last six months – the squad and the team have come together playing in a good style.
“I’m positive. I still believe that the Croatia game will be the game (when qualification is decided).
“There’s still a long way to go. The pressure is on Russia and Israel to perform.”
Speaking ahead of Friday’s friendly against Austria, McClaren claimed he had the backing of the Football Association – even if England do not qualify for the Euro 2008 finals.
“It’s not my decision, it’s up to the Football Association. I believe I’ll survive,” he said.
“All we can concentrate on is the game on Friday.”