Steve McClaren avoided David Beckham's charity match performance against Vinnie Jones' Sunday league Hollywood team in Los Angeles on Sunday night after getting personal assurances from the player that he was fit again. Having spoken to Beckham and medical staff at Los Angeles Galaxy, McClaren is now ready to bring the player back into the England squad.
It would appear that Beckham is back in the England squad that will face Austria in Vienna on 16 November and then Croatia in the last Euro 2008 qualifier five days later. The England manager will announce his squad – which could be his final one if England fail to qualify for Euro 2008 – in the north-east on Friday.
McClaren kept his trip to America low-profile and did not tell some Football Association officials, although he did OK it with chief executive Brian Barwick. McClaren visited Beckham at his Beverly Hills home and watched a training session at LA Galaxy's stadium.
The two men have a cordial relationship, although given Beckham's original exile from the national team when McClaren took over in August last year it could never be described as close. Recent reports that Beckham would intervene on McClaren's behalf if the FA chose to sack McClaren are well wide of the mark.
McClaren felt the trip was necessary to reassure himself that Beckham would be fit to face Croatia given the player's long lay-off with knee ligament damage. While there remains a chance that Russia could drop points away to Israel on 17 November – thus opening the door for England to qualify for Euro 2008 if they beat Croatia – McClaren wanted to reassure himself the 32-year-old was ready.
Perhaps wisely he chose to fly home before Sunday's game between LA Galaxy and the part-celebrity, all-amateur Hollywood United. Beckham scored twice in 12-4 win for the professionals. At the end of the game it was announced that the former Ipswich Town player Frank Yallop had been sacked as Galaxy coach – prompting a search for a high-profile replacement.Reuse content