McClaren to be named England coach today

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The Independent Online

Steve McClaren will be confirmed as the England manager following a board meeting of the Football Association today, according to senior sources.

The Middlesbrough manager's name will be recommended to the board by the selection panel and an announcement is expected this afternoon with McClaren likely to be officially paraded as Sven Goran Eriksson's successor tomorrow.

The appointment should be a matter of rubber-stamping, as four members of the panel are also on the board, including the main powerbrokers from the professional game, Dave Richards and David Dein.

The issue is unlikely even to go to a vote. The six board members from the amateur side of football should be broadly supportive of having an Englishman in charge and so, unless there are any objections, the appointment will just be waved through.

One member of the six-man selection panel said: "The board actually makes the decision but the panel have recommended Steve McClaren be appointed as the next England manager. We have to wait but it would be an almighty surprise if the recommendation was not acted upon."

McClaren is the selection panel's second choice however - Luiz Felipe Scolari pulled out after being offered the job last week - but there is a sense of unanimity over the appointment as some board members would have been very unhappy at giving Scolari, a Brazilian, the job. If there is any disagreement at the board meeting it is likely to focus on the selection process, after criticism of the FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, for insisting three months ago that an appointment would be made before the World Cup.

McClaren is set to be asked to head a team of other English coaches to work with England. Stuart Pearce and Alan Curbishley have both been discussed by the selection panel as potential assistants.

McClaren's midfielder at Boro, George Boateng, has urged Eriksson to take Stewart Downing to the World Cup finals. The Dutchman believes his 21-year-old team-mate is the best left-footed crosser of the ball in the country and could do a fine job for his country in Germany.

"Joe Cole could be asked to play on the left, but for me if Stewart Downing is fit, he should be going to the World Cup because he can be a surprise," he said. "Even in training if he stops the ball, I don't stop running because I need to be a yard in front of him."

Elsewhere, Spanish authorities yesterday threatened to delay David Beckham joining up with England by a week. All leagues have been ordered by Fifa to finish by May 15 and Beckham is due to play his last game of the season against Sevilla on that date.

But because of a fixture backlog affecting Sevilla and Barcelona, whose match 10 days ago was abandoned because of heavy rain, and the Spanish want to end their season one week later on the 21st. Last week the Spanish FA had their request to delay their season's end rejected by Fifa but yesterday they agreed 14-5 to take their case to a Zurich court.

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