(photo credit: AP)
Roberto Colautti is Israel's main doubt ahead of the Euro 2008 qualifier against England on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.
The Argentinian born striker did not train with the rest of the squad at the Watford training ground on Wednesday and trained lightly in an attempt to regain fitness and shake off his thigh injury by Saturday afternoon.
Colautti, who has scored six goals in Israel's eight qualifiers to date, is guaranteed a starting position, as long as he's fit, and will be key to any hope the national team has of leaving Wembley with a positive result.
Colautti himself remains positive.
"I will do all I can to play on Saturday. I'll give 250% so that I'll be fit on time. We will, however, only know on Thursday where I stand. I want to play because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don't want to miss that," said Colautti, who was suspended from Israel's match against England at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
"It's a special experience, a dream. We need to make it special for us so we rise to the occasion," he said. "Many people think I'm mad because I think Israel can win, but a draw would still be a sensational result for us," he said. "England is not the super team of the past and we know they will feel the pressure. They have great individuals but we are together as a unit and we believe that will make us stronger.
"We know the situation and how much pressure England is under. They are expected to qualify and no one expected Israel to get through. That has been a help to us and we have enjoyed being underdogs in games, especially when people don't know what to expect," he continued.
Commenting on the status of the group overall, he said "Croatia has done well, but there is a place still open for one of England, Russia or Israel.
"We must get a result against England and then we have a plan in which we believe we can beat Russia and qualify. We believe we can do it, we have to," he said.
Colautti, who signed for German club Borussia Moenchengladbach over the summer, also told the Daily Mirror about his time in Israel.
"I came to Israel three years ago and I made my life and my home there. It was one of the happiest times of my life and my career," he said. "I am proud to wear the Israel shirt and so happy that this great nation has given me this opportunity. I want to play at my best to help them reach the finals."
Midfielder Idan Tal made remarks in The Sun newspaper which raised a small storm among England players on Wednesday. The Betar Jerusalem player labeled England's style of play as "not smart" and "ugly."
"England's style of football gets me. As far as I am concerned it is not smart. When you are told to kick the ball to someone so they can head it in the air, it becomes ugly. It's not attractive football," Tal said.
The 31-year-old Tal, who played in the past for Everton and Bolton, said: "When I was in England I remember speaking with a lot of fans who were so disappointed with the state of the national team. They didn't like how they played and maybe the reason could be the manager. They are just not convincing at all."
Tal, who later on Wednesday claimed that The Sun misinterpreted his comments, added: "We are the underdogs but that doesn't mean we're going to give up just because it is England and we are playing at Wembley. We will try to do everything to surprise them."
Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who rejoined his England teammates in training on Wednesday after missing out due to injury on Tuesday, said about Tal's remarks: "It is obviously a poor comment. I don't know who he is or what he meant by it, but we are not going to be provoked. We are comfortable that we have a squad that includes some of the best players in the world."
"We know Israel is not going to just throw people forward. They didn't do that in the last game. They barely had a shot or a chance and they were the home team. Hopefully, we can get an early goal this time. If we manage that, I feel it will be a comfortable game for us," Hargreaves said.
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