Stockings for Beckham and England

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The Independent Football

David Beckham and the rest of England's World Cup squad are to fly to the Far East in stockings.

The bizarre fashion accessory was revealed yesterday as the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson and his FA backroom team go to new lengths to give the players extra support. Medically, of course. The squad have been measure for deep vein thrombosis stockings – in either beige or black – and they will wear them on the flight to Japan and South Korea.

Medical opinion is that special stockings can help passengers avoid DVT, which can strike even a fit, young athlete. Manchester City's French striker Alioune Toure was struck by the problem last season on a long bus trip to Portsmouth.

Beckham will travel with the rest of the England squad on Monday to their pre-World Cup training base in Dubai after Eriksson had discussions with Manchester United.

The Old Trafford club were reluctant to release Beckham at a critical stage of his comeback from a broken left foot. However, they have agreed to release Beckham and his team-mate Nicky Butt, who has a knee ligament injury.

Denis Irwin, 36, is not be offered a new contract after 12 years at United. He plays his 527th and final game today.

The Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has identified his two intended summer signings. Although he did not disclose any names, the PSV Eindhoven midfielder Mark van Bommel and defender Kevin Hofland are rumoured to be on his short-list.