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Parker admits he used win-or-bust approach to earn England spot

Scott Parker has admitted he adopted a win-or-bust mentality to the two England games that look destined to propel him to Euro 2012.

Having thought his international career was over when he was axed from Fabio Capello's provisional World Cup squad without playing a minute of two warm-up friendlies, Parker was given half a game to impress in the side's 2-1 friendly win away to Denmark back in February.

The 30-year-old did enough to seal a starting slot against Wales in Cardiff the following month, since when he has been a permanent presence, showing Capello he did have someone capable of occupying that troublesome midfield holding role after all.

"In Copenhagen, I knew I needed to give it a rip," Parker said. "Obviously, I impressed the manager a little bit to get the start against Wales, which was massive for me."

"The game in Cardiff was a bittersweet occasion anyway. That Wales game came a week after my dad died, so there were obviously issues with the way I was feeling going into it," he said.

"I had a bit of a shoulder injury. I had a thing with my toe as well. But you know what? Any one of those lads would have done anything to play. It was a very good game and a massive standout for me."

It is still slightly strange that Parker is viewed as a voice of experience in a youthful squad given he only has seven international caps.

In fact, the Tottenham new boy prefers to think of himself as one of those not tainted by a negative past.

"It is clear to see there are a lot of good young players coming in," he said. "People talk about my age but you could probably include me in that.

"I haven't got a lot of experience at international level. I am 30 and one of the oldest in the squad but I am new to this as well."

There is no fresher face in the England squad than Manchester United's Phil Jones, who has not even sat on the bench yet.

It does appear Capello is considering whether to start with the 19-year-old alongside skipper John Terry tomorrow, a move that would cost Bolton's Gary Cahill his place.

Cahill has been part of a Trotters side that has suffered a woeful start to the Premier League season. However, he performed well in England's first couple of qualifiers this season, opening the scoring in Bulgaria, and Capello will think long and hard before ditching the 25-year-old.



Baird looks for fan power

Chris Baird has called for Northern Ireland fans to get behind the side, and under-fire manager Nigel Worthington, as they look to end their Euro 2012 qualification campaign on a high.

Back-to-back defeats to Serbia and Estonia last month left them with only the slimmest mathematical hope of reaching the play-offs after dropping to fifth in Group C.

Attention has instead turned to Worthington's future and whether or not the Irish Football Association will offer him a new contract when his current deal expires at the end of the year.

Some travelling fans called for Worthington to quit after the defeat to Estonia but Fulham's Baird wants a positive reaction this time.

"The fans know that it was three mistakes for three of the goals against Estonia and that's what really killed us," Baird said. "They aren't silly, they know it was one of those nights and I even thought we played well at times. But this is an important match for us and for Nigel, so let's hope the fans come (tomorrow) and get behind us."