Gerrard still haunted by Euro 2008 absence

SIX years ago England captain Steven Gerrard suffered the heartbreak of failing to qualify for a major tournament and is determined to use that “haunting” experience as motivation to beat Poland tonight.

With victory against Croatia required to reach Euro 2008, England suffered a 3-2 defeat in the pouring rain at Wembley, which consequently ended manager Steve McLaren’s short time in charge.

Gerrard hopes he can skipper England to victory at Wembley tonight, but admits even World Cup qualification would fail to banish the pain of missing the 2008 tournament finals.

“The Croatia night and experience haunts you for a very, very long time,” said the Liverpool midfielder.

“The Croatia game is a memory you will never be able to eject and that’s why it’s important we seize this moment.

“When Roy first called me over the captaincy and gave it to me full-time, the job was to lead the lads into Brazil and it would be a huge satisfaction for me if we do it.”

Gerrard admits the feel good factor in the dressing room remains following Friday’s 4-1 demolition of Montenegro.

But the 33-year-old has told his team-mates they must now clear that triumph from their minds and focus on the task at hand.

“It was a fantastic performance against Montenegro and it was important we enjoyed it, but it’s gone now and we need a similar effort against Poland,” he added.

“I’m confident we can produce the same, but it’s a lot different being confident to going and doing it.”

Tonight’s fixtures
England v Poland; San Marino v Ukraine; Montenegro v Moldova