Some of of the United States players consider David Beckham a more welcome part of their lives than others. "He's a Capello spy," joked Landon Donovan earlier this week when dismissing suggestions the two of them might be communicating but the traffic of texts between Beckham and Oguchi Onyewu, Bob Bradley's gargantuan central defender, have continued apace this week.
"I communicate with David all the time," Onyewu said yesterday. "We text back and forth, just stuff like 'how are you doing?' He was at our friendly on Saturday and sent his regards. It's good to have your friends behind you."
Onyewu would not disclose the nature of the communications though their shared experience of injury agony – for Beckham the snapped Achilles, for Onyewu the knee ligament damage which has kept him out of the Milan set-up for seven months – will have figured. The worry for the US is whether Onyewu's prolonged absence will make him a weak link against Rooney and whoever else Fabio Capello chooses to play in England's attack.
Onyewu's outlook was as bullish as you would expect from a player who used to bench press 140kg – the equivalent of roughly two Kieron Dyers – during his six month loan spell at Newcastle United in 2007.
"I'm up to facing England," the 28-year-old said. "Wayne Rooney is not the only world-class player they have. You shouldn't just focus on one player in a team sport. I had to complete a lot of fitness tests in Milan before I came out here and I've been passed physically fit. There are no issues."
But a concern he will admit to is tomorrow's Brazilian referee Carlos Simon who, with his work learning British swear words, might be keen to brandish some cards. "It's something all the players are going to have to be conscious of," the 6ft 4in defender said. "It could be come Saturday he doesn't pull any cards out and lets things go. But it's about reading the referee early in the game and making any necessary adjustments."
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