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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

England Prepared For Israel Qualifier

LONDON -- Owen Hargreaves is ready to put the bite back into England's midfield against Israel on Saturday when he makes a much-awaited return from injury in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

After a flying start to the season with three straight wins, England's form has plummeted since Hargreaves suffered a broken leg on club duty with Bayern Munich in September.

After scoring 10 goals without reply, England has managed only one goal since and conceded four, slipping to third in Group E after a draw with Macedonia and defeat by Croatia in qualifying.

England has seven points, one behind Russia and three behind leaders Croatia. Only goal difference keeps McClaren's men ahead of Macedonia, which is one game ahead, and Israel.

Russia's hopes of maintaining its lead over England were hit by the withdrawal of Spartak captain Yegor Titov for the qualifier against Estonia due to family reasons.

The midfielder became the fifth Russian player to pull out of Saturday's Group E match in Tallinn following the withdrawals of goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev, midfielder Igor Semshov and defenders Alexei Berezutsky and Denis Kolodin through injury and illness.

Russia coach Guus Hiddink has called up goalkeeper Dmitry Borodin and midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov as replacements.

In a tight group, the injuries could not have come at a worse time.

Hargreaves knows how important a win is on Saturday.

"Definitely, with the position we're in, we need the three points."

The midfielder, who made his Bayern return last month, is relishing being back in England's hour of need, which should be followed by a much easier time next Wednesday against Andorra.

"I've been out for longer than I originally expected with my leg, I've had some games under my belt and it's great obviously to be back playing," the 26-year-old said.

"This is the next step, to be back with England. We've got two important games and I'm looking forward to it."

Defender Jamie Carragher summed up the view of the England locker room, telling reporters: "He had a great World Cup and he's been a bit of a miss for us.

"Hopefully with him coming back in he can show us what he can do ... and give us more chance of getting the points."

Hargreaves' return will also be welcomed by the fans, who ended up voting him England's best player at the World Cup, having booed him when he came on in the opener against Paraguay.

Though pleased with the change in fortune, he said: "That's not something I focused on to achieve.

"The most important thing is that the manager picks me and thinks I can do a job to help the team win. I don't need any more show of faith than that."