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Jamie Carragher will turn down Steve McClaren

Jamie Carragher will turn down Steve McClaren

By Ian Winrow, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 8:04pm BST 12/08/2007

Jamie Carragher will reject Steve McClaren's overtures when the England coach makes his latest attempt to persuade the Liverpool centre-back to reconsider his plans to retire from the international game.

Carragher, 29, announced last month he was ready to quit the national team after growing frustrated at his lack of opportunities, a situation that reached a head when he was overlooked for the Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia in favour of Ledley King, of Tottenham, and Wes Brown, of Manchester United.

McClaren is keen for Carragher to rejoin the fold, particularly with John Terry, the captain, King and Jonathan Woodgate all expected to miss the friendly with Germany at Wembley on Aug 22, and he will contact the player this week.

But Carragher, who came in for criticism following his original announcement, has not softened his stance and has given Anfield colleagues a clear indication he will concentrate all his efforts on his Liverpool career.

That will come as a big blow to McClaren who last week said: "I've had a couple of conversations with Jamie and I'll have another with him. Jamie is a very important player for England. There is no way I want to lose him and keeping Jamie involved is my main aim at present."

Having pledged his sole allegiance to his club, Carragher's next test will be to help ensure Rafael Benitez's side negotiate the first leg of an awkward Champions League qualifying-round tie in Toulouse on Wednesday, and in doing so take the first steps towards shaking off the lingering disappointment of May's final defeat to AC Milan.

Benitez admits he is still pained by the manner of that defeat when his side failed to capitalise on their dominant first-half display but, after having questioned his long-term future on Merseyside, he has been rejuvenated by a £45 million rebuilding programme that, he believes, has strengthened his squad to the point where the club can now compete convincingly both at home and in Europe.

The Spaniard admits that, 17 years after their last title, the Premier League trophy is the one most fans would like to see return to Anfield's trophy room but he insists the new arrivals, headed by Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, mean his side are no longer restricted to fighting on one front.

"I am not over that Milan game yet, especially because I know we were so close to winning," Benitez said. "I think everyone wants to win the Champions League and would like to be in the final. We have been in the final and won it in the last three years but we have not won the Premiership for a long time. But if you tell me I have to have one, I'll tell you I want both.

"Every year the squad is better and hopefully next year we will be better. With a bigger and better squad you can manage with both competitions. The mentality is fantastic and if these [new] players can push us on, along with the other players, we can be closer in the Premiership."


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