Beckham groin strain 'not as bad as feared'

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The Independent Online

The Football Association remained confident that David Beckham will report for international duty today after the England captain underwent intensive treatment at his Hertfordshire home yesterday.

Beckham, who pulled up after hitting a pass during Manchester United's Premiership match at Villa Park on Sunday, has suffered what is described as a "mild" groin strain.

He was attended to by Gary Lewin, the England and Arsenal physiotherapist. Lewin will work on him again this morning before the pair join up with the rest of the England squad ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier match against Germany in Munich.

Adrian Bevington, an FA spokesman, said: "The injury appears not to be anywhere near as bad as was first feared. It is a mild groin strain and while it is difficult to assess such injuries in the first 48 hours, he will be reporting as normal with the other players to the team hotel."

Bevington stressed that the FA would 'tread carefully' and further treatment might include a scan.

Beckham has been an ever-present in the England side for the six matches since Eriksson took charge. He has missed just one England international in the past 21 months, the away draw in Finland last October.

The alternatives within the squad on the right wing would mainly consist of Steve McManaman, who has not yet started a competitive game this season, or Nick Barmby.

Although Mehmet Scholl has withdrawn from the German squad with an ankle injury, his midfield colleague Sebastian Deisler should be fit to face England. The 21-year-old was exhausted after his club Hertha Berlin's 2-1 German Cup win at neighbouring Babbelsberg on Saturday and had to cancel a planned appearance on a television show later that evening.

"Basti was completely out of power," his club doctor Ulrich Schleicher said. "We gave him infusions right after the match and medicines and ordered him to rest. I don't see any danger for Saturday's match."

Another Hertha Berlin player, the defender Marco Rehmer, has a bruised ankle but also should be fit in time for Saturday.

A bigger worry for the Germany coach, Rudi Völler, are his attacking options. Only Oliver Neuville is playing regularly for his club side and he is more of a creator than a finisher.

"The problem that we face is with our strikers," Völler said. "I have five with me and only one of them is a regular with his club [Neuville] with the other four rarely making the starting line-up with their respective teams."

* Ladbrokes have been accused of launching a "distasteful" Internet game to coincide with Saturday's match. The game portrays a Lancaster bomber dropping balls on to German players at Munich's Olympic Stadium and Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the England Football Supporters' Association, said, "Surely, with all their website design skills, they could have chosen sporting images rather than warlike ones."

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