McClaren checks on Parker for first England squad

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The Independent Online

Steve McClaren, the new England manager, will check on the form and fitness of Scott Parker before he names his first squad. The Newcastle United midfielder has been left out of the England team for more than two years but could be one of the first to benefit from the change of regime.

McClaren, who started the job on Tuesday, plans to watch him in action in a friendly against Villarreal on Saturday. Parker has just two caps for his country and has not played since a brief appearance as a substitute in a friendly against Sweden in March 2004. McClaren's predecessor, Sven Goran Eriksson, dropped him on to the stand-by list for Euro 2004 and never picked Parker again.

McClaren is keen to see Parker in action before his first game, a friendly against Greece at Old Trafford on 16 August. The England manager will watch Manchester United against Porto in Amsterdam tomorrow and then head for Tyneside to watch Newcastle against Villarreal.

A week later McClaren will be at Tottenham's friendly against Real Sociedad at White Hart Lane. He plans to plans to name his squad for the Greece game on the same day, having watched Chelsea against Feyenoord in Rotterdam in the interim.

McClaren has confirmed that Ray Clemence will continue as England's goalkeeping coach but Peter Taylor's long-term future as the Under-21 coach remains unresolved after he met McClaren yesterday.

The Crystal Palace manager will be in charge of the Under-21s when they start their European Championship qualification campaign against Moldova at Portman Road on 15 August. But there is no guarantee he will still be at the helm by the time of the finals in the Netherlands next year.

Taylor said: "My situation is open-ended at the moment and that's not a problem for me. I thoroughly enjoy working with the Under-21s and, if the job is available on a match-to-match basis, then I'm happy with that.

"I don't think there's a long-term guarantee that I'll be doing it all the time," he added, "but all I'm thinking about at the moment is trying to qualify for the finals of the next tournament."

McClaren said: "It was really good to sit down with Peter and talk through how the senior and Under-21s teams run alongside each other."

* Newcastle are leading the chase for Real Madrid midfielder Thomas Gravesen. Real are willing to sell Gravesen after he had a bust-up with striker Robinho at a pre-season training camp on Tuesday.

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