Football: Gerrard wants qualifying pain turned into gain

Football: Gerrard wants qualifying pain turned into gain

WATFORD,United Kingdom - Steven Gerrard will draw on his painful, first-hand experience of failure to inspire his England team-mates ahead of the decisive World Cup qualifier with Poland.

Tuesday's meeting at Wembley is not do or die for manager Roy Hodgson's side, but anything less than victory will mean England must negotiate a play-off if they are to reach next year's finals in Brazil.

The prospect of failing to qualify has revived memories of the meeting with Croatia in 2007 when England - then managed by Steve McClaren - lost 3-2 at home to Croatia, ending their hopes of reaching Euro 2008.

That defeat brought an end to McClaren's time in charge of the national team and scarred Gerrard.

"It's a memory I'll struggle to forget, one I'll take with me to the grave," said the England captain.

"It was one of the lowest moments of my international journey. I hope we don't get back to that.

"We never played well on the night. It stays with me now. The failure of not getting to the tournament. We didn't perform. We underperformed."

The Liverpool midfielder, though, is convinced there are few similarities between the England side that faced Croatia six years ago and the one that will play Poland buoyed by a convincing 4-1 win over Montenegro at Wembley on Friday.

"Once the game starts your nerves have gone, but the feeling is totally different this time," Gerrard said. "We go into this game with the belief and confidence in the squad."

Hodgson's willingness to place his faith in youth against Montenegro has helped instil that confidence in the wake of the uninspiring scoreless draw in Ukraine last month.

In particular, the performance of Andros Townsend on his full international debut lifted spirits but Gerrard admits the presence of so many inexperienced internationals in the group means he has had to exert caution when asked for guidance about how to cope with the pressure of high-profile England matches.

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