BARCELONA (AFP) - Joe Cole has warned his England team-mates not to underestimate Croatia for the second tournament in a row as they prepare for a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb on Wednesday.
Cole, who came off the bench to score twice against Andorra on Saturday, hopes his decisive intervention in England's opening qualifier will result in him being promoted to the starting line-up for a match that could really set the tone in the battle for top spot in group six.
England lost 2-0 in Zagreb two years ago in a Euro 2008 qualifying match and went on to miss out on a place in the finals as Croatia topped the group ahead of Russia.
But Chelsea midfielder Cole, who also scored as a substitute against the Czech Republic last month, believes England have learned from their mistakes.
He said: "The last time we went out there we underestimated them a little bit. Looking at their performances they are a top side with great players.
"You need to be solid, tough and compact when you play there -- you need everyone's experience on the pitch because it's going to be a hostile environment."
Cole, who would be happy to take a point from the fixture, believes defeat in Croatia set England's entire qualification campaign back last time when a goalkeeping howler from Paul Robinson added to the sense of doom and saw media criticism hit a peak.
"You need to get off to a good start, we really let ourselves down in Zagreb last time and also by drawing against Macedonia at home," he said. "Once a team gets the bit between their teeth like Croatia did then you're always playing catch-up and you've made life hard for yourself.
"If we can get the right result on Wednesday we can really push on. We will go there to win the game but if we were to draw it then you would still say at this point England are in the driving seat."
Cole is hopeful of forcing his way into the starting line-up after his recent performances as a substitute but knows second-guessing manager Fabio Capello is almost impossible, especially after he was singled out for criticism by the Italian for not listening to instructions on Saturday -- despite his two-goal display.
Cole added: "I think at the start of a new regime no one can be confident of automatically starting. It's good that everybody has to fight for their place and perform well in every game. I'm here to play for England. As for criticism from the manager that is what they are there for, that is what they do.
"The mood is good in this squad. We are moving forward every day. Today we are working on new things and things that we might want to do on Wednesday night. We are not taking our foot off the pedal. We need to keep working. I think the way the team is set up, we are getting stronger. There is more mental toughness in the team now.
"We'll need it because Croatia pass the ball so well. We need to make a good start, get in their faces and really play with passion and desire like England should do and not be naive.
"In the past England teams have thrown men forward and got caught on the counter attack a lot. We are working on that: being resolute, strong and hard to break down."
England are expected to have Rio Ferdinand back after he recovered from a neck injury to train on Monday.
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott played ahead of David Beckham against Andorra but Capello may bring the former captain back for a match in which his experience and ball retention could be useful.
Walcott however was keen to make his case for another start.
"I give England a different aspect to the game, getting in behind defenders," he said. "It was very difficult the other day because they (Andorra) were so deep. On Wednesday it will be a totally different game, more football involved, playing the counter-attack suits my game.
"It will be another big experience for me if I'm involved. I'm just training well, that's all I've got to do. David will do the same. The manager picks the team, you have to ask him. If I train well hopefully I'll be there."
|Campbell: Black professionals scared to talk about racism|
|Mata backs Herrera to star in Premier League|
|Injured Rafael returning to Manchester|
|Schmidt demands more from Leverkusen|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Defensor Sporting banking on home record|
|Remy´s Liverpool move off, confirms Rodgers|
|Inzaghi demands nastiness from Milan|
|MLS Review: Timbers triumph in Montreal, Dallas thwart Vancouver|
|Jovetic ready to lead City line - Pellegrini|
|Lewandowski impresses Ribery, Alaba|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Three clubs remain perfect, Atletico Nacional get off the mark|
|Rodgers: ´We can score goals´ without Suarez|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Canales brace powers Universidad Chile|
|Atletico Madrid need penalties to edge past Earthquakes|
|Liga MX Review: Monterrey, America stay perfect|
|Paraguayan Primera Division Review: Capiata set pace|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro win again, Kaka scores|
|Sterling goal sees Liverpool past Olympiacos|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Los Caimanes notch maiden win, Inti Gas claim top spot|
|CAF Champions League Review: Zamalek held, Vita Club leave it late|
|Jovetic at the double as Manchester City thrash Milan|
|Monk thrilled by Sigurdsson contribution|
|Lovren signs for Liverpool|
|Mourinho pleased with Olimpija test|
|Vertonghen eager to remain at Spurs|
|Sigurdsson marks Swansea return with a brace|
|Lewandowski, Rode help Bayern retain Telekom Cup|
|Immobile scores and suffers injury in Dortmund win|
|Costa scores on Chelsea debut|
|CAF Confederation Cup Review: Leopards de Dolisie 1 Real Bamako 2|
|Thai Premier League Review: Buriram pull clear, Police edge away from danger|
|Falcao nears Monaco return|
|CSL Review: Harbin Yiteng produce another upset, Evergrande stretch lead|
|Britton and Emnes to miss season-opener|
|Taylor-Fletcher strike sinks Everton|
|J.League Review: Chasing pack close on Urawa Reds, Tokushima Vortis secure rare win|
|Ancelotti expects fresh Bale to be even better|
|Simeone keen on Griezmann|
|Mazzarri refuses to set Inter targets|
|Lazio director targeted by fans|
|Dyche rules out Deeney move|
|Rummenigge: Bayern will never sack Guardiola|
|BREAKING NEWS: Arsenal to bring in Ospina|
|Pochettino quiet on Schneiderlin link|
|Vidic settling into Inter life|
|Van Gaal hints at Zaha United future|
|Di Maria will report for training - Ancelotti|
|Wilshere vows to answer critics|
|Rodgers expecting titles|
|Deila demands Celtic cutting edge|
|Rodgers: We won´t rush Lallana|
|Wenger: We have to be better against top-level teams|
|FIGC presidential candidate uses racist slur|
|MLS Review: Columbus claim second straight win, Toronto falter|
|Villa battle past Dynamo in Houston|
|United more efficient, says Garcia|
|Pedestrian Tottenham edge past Chicago Fire|
|Van Gaal bemoans display|
|CS Sfaxien 1 ES Tunis 0: Troussier era opens with a win|
|Icardi stars from the spot as Inter overcome Real Madrid|
|Arsenal upstaged by Red Bulls|
|Pre-Season Friendly Review: Rooney stars for United, Bayern reach Telekom final|
|In-form Rooney inspires Manchester United win|
|CAF Confederation Cup Review: Cotonsport on verge of progress|
|Ribery helps Bayern to penalty victory on return|
|Balzaretti suffers another injury blow|
|Puel confirms Ospina departure|
|Beckham backs Rodriguez to be Real hit|
|Bojan fails to inspire Stoke|
|Long on target as Hull held by Barnsley|
|Cardiff issue Medel warning|
|Ferreyra sorry for late Shakhtar return|
|Payet rules out Swansea move|
|Gilchrist nets winner as Burnley edge Accrington|
|Cazorla optimistic for new season|
|Celtic suffer St Pauli defeat|
|QPR lose on Ferdinand debut|
|Mashaba handed Bafana Bafana role|
|Van Aanholt eager to prove himself|
|Areola completes Bastia loan switch|
|Ospina imminent, but Szczesny gets Wenger´s backing|
|Reus happy with progress|
|Alleged spot-fixers released|
|Giuly: Mathieu can be the next Abidal|
|Allardyce hoping to keep hold of Morrison|
|Monk hails quality of Swansea additions|
|Van Gaal orders United players to speak English|
|Allardyce: We must improve|
|Campbell thrilled by Palace switch|
|Bojan drawn by Stoke style|
|Palace were wasteful, says Pulis|
|Van Gaal suits me - Cleverley|
|Newcastle stay perfect in NZ|
|Van Gaal prepared to wait for Strootman|
|West Brom overcome Sacramento|
|Colorado Rapids 3 Chivas USA 0: Hosts rise to third in the West|
|Gameiro brace adds to West Ham woes|
|Villas-Boas: Rodriguez best suited to no.10 role|
|Cazorla: I´m happy at Arsenal|
|Reina respects Liverpool contract|
|Lampard could move to Melbourne on loan|
|Galliani: Balotelli ´99.9 per cent´ staying|
|Own goal helps Palace win in Philadelphia|
|Mourinho: Shaw deal would have ´killed´ Chelsea|
|Al Ahli Benghazi 0 ES Setif 2: Visitors on verge of semi-final spot|
|Julio Cesar returns to QPR|
|Rooney wants to lead United|