Steve McClaren will get the chance to ponder the merits of two contenders to replace Owen Hargreaves in the England team when Manchester United face Newcastle tomorrow, and for Michael Carrick and Scott Parker it is a match that could have serious consequences for their international prospects.
Both were yesterday named in the squad to face Macedonia next Saturday and Croatia on 11 October as McClaren made some conservative choices in response to the loss of Aaron Lennon and his Bayern Munich midfielder. There was no place for Jermaine Pennant as a replacement for the Tottenham winger while Wayne Rooney, Ledley King, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville came back into the squad.
Both King and his Tottenham team-mate Jermain Defoe will have late fitness tests before tomorrow's game against Portsmouth but are expected to be fit enough to report for duty with England on Tuesday. The second of the two Euro 2008 qualifiers, away in Zagreb, will prove the stiffest test yet of McClaren's new England regime which has so far registered three wins from three.
On Parker, McClaren said: "Scott is captain at Newcastle, he's having a very good run in the team, and he is a leader. He is a player who epitomises what we are all about - team ethic and a winning attitude. I spoke to Scott. He was thrilled and delighted to have the opportunity. I'm looking forward to meeting up with him and the rest of the squad."
The Premier League inquiry into corruption in football led by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan police commissioner, is expected to announce on Monday that it wants more time to assess some of the 362 transfers it has examined this year. It will, however, give a clean bill of health to the vast majority of deals carried out in the five transfer windows that fall within its remit.
Lord Stevens will present his findings to representatives of the 20 Premiership clubs, and then to the media, on Monday but he will not name any of the clubs or individuals that his team of investigators are taking a closer look at. Along with the Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, Stevens will make recommendations about the way football conducts its business.
That is expected to include calls for transfers and the role of agents to be made more transparent in order to tackle the public perception that the game is rife with bungs and illegal payments. The FA also announced it is expanding its compliance unit to deal with the allegations about corruption that have been made lately, especially from the BBC's Panorama investigation.
ENGLAND SQUAD (for European Championship qualifying matches against Macedonia and Croatia): Robinson (Tottenham), Foster (Man Utd), Kirkland (Liverpool); G Neville (Man Utd), P Neville (Everton), Brown (Man Utd), Terry (Chelsea), Ferdinand (Man Utd), Carragher (Liverpool), King (Tottenham), A Cole (Chelsea), Bridge (Chelsea); Lampard (Chelsea), Gerrard (Liverpool), Jenas (Tottenham), Carrick (Man Utd), Richardson (Man Utd), Downing (Middlesbrough), Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Parker (Newcastle); Rooney (Man Utd), Crouch (Liverpool), Johnson (Everton), Defoe (Tottenham).Reuse content