Sanchez wants to face Beckham

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The Independent Online

The Northern Ireland manager, Lawrie Sanchez, is counting on David Beckham being cleared to face his side in their next World Cup qualifier against England.

The Northern Ireland manager, Lawrie Sanchez, is counting on David Beckham being cleared to face his side in their next World Cup qualifier against England.

Beckham is in danger of being charged by the Football Association in the next few days after his controversial comments following his yellow card against Wales at Old Trafford.

The England captain has been given until Friday to explain himself after publicly admitting that he got himself booked to miss the qualifier in Azerbaijan, which he would have missed anyway through injury.

The likelihood is that Beckham will be fined by the FA or given an official warning as to his future conduct. That is the outcome that Sanchez is looking for, rather than hoping Beckham is suspended for the qualifier next March as punishment.

"We want to face their best players," Sanchez said. "If we then beat England, they would have no excuses.

"It was an ill-judged comment but banning him would just deprive us and the fans of seeing him play. To be honest, I think he will just get his wrists slapped."

Sanchez believes England's qualification is now almost assured, with 10 points having been taken from their opening four games.

He admits his own side, meanwhile, need to win in Poland after facing England to have any chance of reaching Germany in 2006.

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