Football: Beckham setback for Hoddle
Monday 23 March 1998
Beckham, who has a niggling calf injury, has been sent back to Manchester to recuperate and Le Saux, who has not played for two weeks with an ankle knock, has returned to Chelsea.
England also have doubts over Nicky Butt and Teddy Sheringham, the two remaining Manchester United players from the seven first summoned, and Ray Parlour and Andy Hinchcliffe. The withdrawals reduced the squad for Wednesday's friendly in Switzerland, originally 26-strong, to 20.
The litany of injuries cast a slight shadow over Hoddle's hinted plan to pair Michael Owen and Alan Shearer together in Berne. Owen, said Hoddle, had "taken his breath away" at times this season. It was not just in his goalscoring either, Hoddle described his appreciation of play as "fantastic". Praise indeed from a coach who hands it out carefully.
However, including three England appearances at various levels, the 18- year-old has already played 41 games this season, far more than Liverpool intended, and Robbie Fowler's injury means he will continue to carry the attack for the rest of the season. Add in four of the five planned England friendlies and you are looking at a total of 53 games before a possible seven-match World Cup programme even starts.
It is a lot of matches at the sharp end of the team for someone who had only played one Premiership match before this season. Rio Ferdinand, another talented teenager but one with more experience, said he had suffered a dip in form around the New Year and Owen is sure to struggle to retain his effervescent sharpness until mid- July. As it was he was beginning to look jaded when the England call came and provided a timely injection of energy.
Hoddle is aware of the dangers but, like Roy Evans, feels he has to play Owen. "His next task is to play 40 games a season and see in how many of them he can play to a high level," the England coach said. "With his physique that might be a problem for him." Maybe the best thing that could happen to Owen is a slight strain, something that puts him out for four weeks with no after-effects.
He and Shearer still have to work on their partnership but, if Owen can stay fresh, it could prove as exciting in practice as in theory. While both are exceptional finishers neither are quite the selfish goalscorer of the Clive Allen, Gary Lineker mould. Shearer is more inclined towards that but, as he would be the senior partner that would not be a problem.
Owen's pace, and his ability to go wide, would appear to complement Shearer's strength and aerial ability well. However, playing two such out-and-out forwards does put added pressure on the midfield. With Sheringham apparently exhausted it would seem Paul Merson or Steve McManaman will be given the creative role with two grittier midfielders, such as Paul Ince and David Batty, sitting behind.
The under-21s have been more fortunate with Darren Huckerby, presumably going down in sympathy with his possible future Old Trafford team-mates, the only withdrawal from the 19-man squad for tomorrow's Under-21s-plus- oldies match in Aarau. Both England parties fly to Basle from Luton this morning, then travel by coach to Berne.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
Diego Costa injury: Chelsea striker a doubt for Everton match after suffering muscle injury
Arsenal vs Besiktas player ratings: Alexis Sanchez? Jack Wilshere? Mesut Ozil? Who was the star man at the Emirates Stadium?
Champions League draw: Liverpool meet Real Madrid, but should they fear facing the reigning champions?
William Carvalho to Manchester United: Midfielder on the cards for Louis van Gaal after Arturo Vidal doubts grow
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Anniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...
£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...