Michael Carrick claims the new England will know how good they really are by the reaction to their first setback.

Steve McClaren's promising start as manager ground to an abrupt halt with Saturday's 0-0 draw at home to Macedonia.

The England boss criticised his team for lacking quality and demanded an instant improvement in Croatia tomorrow.

It promises to one of the hardest fixtures for England on the road to Euro 2008, against a team ranked 24th in the world by Fifa and bang in form.

Carrick said: "The best teams all bounce back. It's a test for us to go there and win.

"Confidence and belief haven't been knocked. You just have these days and we're trying to get it out of our system as quickly as possible.

"You've got to forget about the Macedonia game. What's happened has happened.

"It didn't quite go our way but even if we'd won the game it would still be difficult in Croatia.

"We spoke after the game about keeping our heads up and doing the right things.

"The confidence is there, the belief is there, the attitude is there but sometimes you have them games.

"It's a new manager and a new regime and we want to be doing things right."

Croatia, managed by former West Ham United and Everton defender Slaven Bilic, can leapfrog England to the top of Group E if they win.

The Croats have history on their side. They have not lost a competitive match on home soil for 12 years and have only lost once in the capital Zagreb since independence in 1990.

England have not played in Croatia since the break up of Yugoslavia but expect to find an intense atmosphere in the 40,000-capacity Maksimir Stadium.

Carrick, aged 25, said: "This is a big game for them, and they want to do well but we've got our own agenda and we need the three points.

"We won't go into the game thinking about what happened on Saturday. We know we're better than that and we have to get on with it."

Carrick was a youth team player at West Ham when Harry Redknapp brought Bilic to the Premiership in 1996. The stylish central defender starred at Upton Park before moving to Everton.

He was in the Croatia team which reached the World Cup semi-final in 1998 and became manager in July, after a spell in charge of the youth team.

Bilic started his new job impressively by beating world champions Italy in a friendly in August. The Italians were not at full-strength but the Croats then launched their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign with a creditable draw in Russia and smashed seven past Andorra on Saturday.

Outspoken Bilic, who still owns a flat in London, started the mind games last week when he claimed England were boring and overrated in the World Cup.

Carrick said: "People will always have different views and different opinions on the England team and you've just got to focus on what you can do.

"Whatever comments he makes are up to him but we've got a test ahead of us. No matter what anyone says, we've got to go there and win the game."

Carrick won his ninth England cap on Saturday, making a rare start in central midfield because of the injury to Owen Hargreaves.

McClaren must make further changes to his midfield after losing Steven Gerrard through suspension.

Carrick said: "It's a blow. Stevie's a top player and we look to him to score goals. But we've a lot of strength in depth and whoever comes in has to step up to the plate."

The loss of Gerrard could persuade McClaren to rekindle his idea of playing a 3-5-2 formation. England practised the system twice last week before reverting to 4-4-2 against Macedonia.