England squad go back to school for some World Cup motivation

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The Independent Online

England's World Cup hopefuls are more used to limbering up their calves and thighs before a big match than stretching their minds. None the less, the squad's panel of sports psychologists has drawn up a heavy-duty reading list to help motivate them during this summer's campaign.

England's World Cup hopefuls are more used to limbering up their calves and thighs before a big match than stretching their minds. None the less, the squad's panel of sports psychologists has drawn up a heavy-duty reading list to help motivate them during this summer's campaign.

It may seem improbable but David Beckham could well spend the forthcoming nights in Japan curling up with a copy of Ian McEwan's Atonement.

Perhaps to prepare the likes of Michael Owen for any future confrontation with Germany, Anthony Beevor's account of Russia's race into Germany during the last days of Hitler, Berlin: the Downfall, 1945, has been included. And who knows, maybe David Seaman's big goalkeeping hands will be gripping Class War, the controversial treatise by Chris Woodhead, the former chief schools inspector.

The novels are among 400 books, CDs and computer games chosen by the psychologists. Oasis, the Strokes and the Welsh band Stereophonics are among the musical offerings.

Paul Barber, the FA's marketing director, said: "In the past we've found players have had a lot of time on their hands in the run up to and in between games.

"Sitting around waiting to play or train can sometimes increase the team's nerves but we now have the ammunition to keep players entertained and relaxed throughout the campaign."

But there will be some light relief for the players. At the special request of the FA, the team sponsor has included copies of Posh Spice's latest album, called simply Victoria Beckham.

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