'I would have allowed Terry to play against Croatia' says Grant

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The Independent Football

John Terry might have played for England in their hour and a half of need on Wednesday – according to his club manager Avram Grant.

The former Israel coach made it clear yesterday that Chelsea would not have objected if Steve McClaren had chosen to add to his list of gambles on the night by playing the England captain despite the fact that he has been out of action for five weeks since injuring his knee on the eve of last month's Euro 2008 qualifier in Russia.

"Would we have let him play? Yes, of course. If he's picked we don't have any problem," said Grant, who added that Terry was fit to play in today's match against bottom-of-the-table Derby County. "You saw it the last time when England played in Russia. Even if he was not 100 per cent I let him play. Of course he got injured again, but I let him play. I was in charge of the [Israeli] national team and I know what it is to serve your country. I'm proud that my players serve their countries.

"It was on the border, I think, with JT. England needed him badly. But when you play an international and you have not played for five weeks ... it was the right decision by McClaren."

Asked if he would have played Terry on Wednesday for Chelsea if they had been involved in a cup final, Grant responded: "I don't think so. After five or six weeks without playing when he is not 100 per cent – it's a risk.'

Grant insisted that the Football Association did not necessarily need to seek another Englishman to fill the position McClaren has just vacated – "it doesn't matter these days" – but maintained that of the possible English candidates, he favoured Harry Redknapp, with whom he worked at Portsmouth before moving to Stamford Bridge last season.

"I think Harry for me is the best English manager," Grant said. "He's a very open guy, he understands the modern football game, he has a very, very good relationship with the players. He knows in a special way to get the best of the players as you see in Portsmouth.

"I was a national coach. When you come to a national team you take it that the motivation of the players to serve their country is in a high, high place. The key issue is tactical. Because you only have the players for four days or five days, you can't work on the physical side, you can't work on the technical side. You have to work on the organisation of the team."

He continued: "I don't think that [Steven] Gerrard, [Frank] Lampard, [Shaun] Wright-Phillips, [Joe] Cole and [Gareth] Barry and the others are less technical than the Croatian team. But it was a poor game from England for sure."

Grant added that he did not expect an adverse reaction in today's game from those players who had returned from England duty. "What happened for them on Wednesday is some kind of tragedy for them," he said. "They are sensitive about this, they didn't like the result – but they know there is a game on Saturday and that life goes on."

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