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: Emirates was the easy option for Mesut Ozil. He needs a leader - and Arsenal don't have them
Police want right of veto over 'high risk' Friday night fixtures in wake of new Premier League TV deal
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao
Cristiano Ronaldo shows off his dance moves, including the moonwalk
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...