Steve McClaren has ordered his players to stand up and fight like men and match Croatia's fierce patriotism.

The England manager expects to face hostile fans and an excellent team in tonight's Euro 2008 qualifier at Zagreb's Maksimir Stadium and has responded by selecting as many experienced players as he can.

This looks likely to mean a new formation because McClaren is without three senior midfielders.

He looks ready to line up with three central defenders, plus Ashley Cole and Gary Neville as wing-backs. Frank Lampard will win his 50th cap in midfield, alongside Michael Carrick and Scott Parker.

McClaren said: "We come into an atmosphere and a ground where they've not been beaten for 12 years.

"We need character. We need pride. We need passion and attitude and we need a team of men out there. We're looking for an English performance.

"We've got the experience to handle the occasion. The reflection of the team will be around those ingredients.

"Croatia are a very proud and patriotic nation but so are we, absolutely. John Terry epitomises that for us and that's what we'll be looking for but everybody has to seize responsibility.

"It's an away game. We can't carry anybody. We have to make sure everybody performs and we're looking at the leaders, the top men, the experienced people out there, who can handle these situations and come out on top."

Many Croats believe their war with Serbia started here in 1990 at a Yugoslavian league match between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade. Dinamo fans fought on the pitch with Yugoslav state police after Red Star fans had started a riot inside the stadium.

A monument outside the stadium pays tribute to those supporters and remembers Croats lost in the war, which broke out the following year.

Croatia have never lost a competitive match at the Maksimir and McClaren said: "They're a good team. They've got great pride in their country. They're 12 years unbeaten in Zagreb and that spread across three or four teams.

"I want as many players on the field as possible who have experienced this type of atmosphere."

Uefa have promised to scrutinise the behaviour of Croatian fans after a racist incident during their friendly in Italy. About 200 supporters formed a human swastika in the stands in Livorno, two months ago.

McClaren is expected to give Parker his first England start. Joe Cole, Owen Hargreaves and Steven Gerrard are missing and McClaren looks set to play Lampard, Parker and Michael Carrick in a midfield trio.

The Newcastle skipper has not played for his country for two-and-a-half years but McClaren said: "Scott has been training with us a week now and I've been really impressed.

"The last time he was with us was a couple of years ago and he's really come on.

"He's matured and now he's captain of his club and he epitomises what the English game is all about. He's a good player.

"He can pass, he can tackle back, he's got that character and attitude. He's got that ability to defend but he's got that burst of energy to get forward into the box and score goals."

McClaren lost centre-half Ledley King, who has a knee problem, yesterday. Rio Ferdinand expects to be fit after a back injury while Jamie Carragher is most likely to come in on the right of the back three.