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Robson backs McClaren bid to use Venables

Sir Bobby Robson approves of Steve McClaren's attempts to persuade the Football Association to appoint Terry Venables as an adviser to the England team.

McClaren has identified the former England coach as the man he would like to work alongside when he takes over the national team after the World Cup. Robson, a predecessor to Venables in the England job, has for the last four months been working as a consultant with the Republic of Ireland, helping the comparatively inexperienced Steve Staunton to settle into his role as coach.

The 73-year-old, who is recovering from surgery to remove a malignant melanoma from his lung, said: "It's up to them what they want to do, but it can work. As for myself and 'Stan' [Staunton], we both talk to the players, and I have to say [coach] Kevin MacDonald is also good. He speaks very well to them. He is not afraid.

"What we don't want to do is confuse them. It's no good me saying one thing, Stan another and Kevin something else. The three of us need to pool our thoughts so we sing off the same hymn sheet and we say the same things to the players. So if I think the right-back should attack more than he is doing in a game, then I want Stan to say 'yes, do what Bobby is saying'.

"It's about spending more time together. It's very important before a match, again at half-time and full-time, the three of us get together so we know what salient points to make, and we will do that. I'm not saying we're at cross purposes now. We've not said anything to the players that might confuse, but we just need more time.

"Certainly at half-time [on Wednesday, in the 1-0 defeat to Chile] we were in agreement when it came to what we were telling the players."

Although not at Staunton's side as much as he would like to have been in recent weeks, Robson is looking for that to change after the summer. "Stan knows he is inexperienced," he said. "Up until a few months ago he had never prepared international teams, never given team talks, never given press conferences at this level. But he will learn and gain experience. In the meantime, I hope to be around him so much that I get him through and help him."

Before then, Staunton and Robson head to Germany for the World Cup, primarily to watch the hosts who are Ireland's opening opponents when the European Championship qualifying campaign starts on September 2. "I've been told Germany are not as good as what we have seen of them in previous years. I'll wait to see that myself."

Meanwhile, Phil Neville says he would have regretted it for the rest of his life if he had not cut short his Caribbean holiday to answer England's SOS call.

Having missed out on a place in Sven Goran Eriksson's World Cup squad, Neville was with his family in Barbados when his brother, Gary, rang to say he was wanted as a replacement for the injured stand-by midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. Within two hours, he was on a flight to Gatwick and barely had time to catch his breath before he was training with the England squad on Tuesday morning.

Although the 29-year-old has only an outside chance of making the flight to Germany, he was named on the bench for last night's B international with Belarus at the Madejski Stadium.

"I could not have turned down this chance because if somebody does get injured and I had stayed in Barbados, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life," he said. "This is an opportunity I thought had passed me by. I have nothing to lose, so I just have to give it everything and see what happens."