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Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick has given his backing to under-fire England boss Steve McClaren, despite the Euro 2008 qualifying defeat in Russia.

England must beat Croatia in November and hope Russia drop points in either of their last two Group E games against Israel and Andorra to reach the finals.

Barwick said: “Steve has our support but our job is to focus on Croatia.

“It is a very big day when Russia play Israel on 17 November, we need Israel to stop them winning and help us.

“Steve has a job to do and he must now get the players ready for the Croatia game.

“We know we need a favour but it is desperately important that we continue to concentrate on qualification.”

McClaren has been in charge since August 2006, when he was promoted from the role of assistant to Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The Swede says McClaren should remain in charge even though the defeat in Russia leaves England’s chances of playing in Austria and Switzerland next summer looking extremely remote.

“England still have a possibility of qualifying – and I hope that they will,” he said. “Steve is my friend, I worked with him for five-and-a-half years and I feel sorry for him.

“England played very well and I am as disappointed as anyone. I don’t think England deserved to lose. They should have at least had a draw.”

Wayne Rooney’s first-half volley put McClaren’s team in control before two goals from Russian substitute Roman Pavluchenko inside four second-half minutes turned the tide.

“It was disappointing for everyone because for 70 minutes we looked in control,” added Barwick.

“The game got away from us in four minutes, we went from looking on course for qualification to now needing help from others.

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