Beckham out of England qualifiers

David Beckham will miss England's upcoming European Championship qualifiers because of his knee injury, while Ashley Young and David Bentley were called up

updated: September 01, 2007 16:11 IST
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David Beckham will miss England's upcoming European Championship qualifiers because of his knee injury, while Ashley Young and David Bentley were called up for the first time on Friday.

England coach Steve McClaren also included injured Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard in his 26-man squad for the matches against Israel on Sept. 8 and Russia four days later, both at Wembley stadium.

England is fourth in Group E with 14 points. Croatia leads with 17, with Israel also on 17. Russia is third with 15. Croatia, Russia and England have played seven games, and Israel eight.

Gerrard has missed Liverpool's last two games with a broken toe. He will also miss Saturday's Premier League match with Derby before joining up with England.

Lampard hurt his thigh in Chelsea training on Friday and was sent for a scan. It was uncertain how bad the injury was.

With only two teams advancing, England, which is also missing injured striker Wayne Rooney, is in danger of missing the tournament in Austria and Switzerland.

"We are very positive that it is in our hands," McClaren said. "The players know what they have got to do. They are used to that at club level and international level. We normally win the big games and we have to do it again."

McClaren dropped Beckham when he became England coach after the World Cup, but brought back the midfielder for the friendly match against Brazil in June. Beckham's accurate crosses have helped set up several goals in the three matches of his international comeback.

"It is a big blow for us," McClaren said. "He is a big player and we are coming up to big games and we need big players for big games. He is injured and how well he recovers and how fast he recovers and how he plays from there on we will see."

If England fails to qualify for Euro 2008, Beckham's international career could be over.

Beckham has played 97 games for England and has long wanted to reach triple figures. Only Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Peter Shilton have more caps. Shilton leads the all-time list with 125 appearances.

Beckham sprained the medial collateral ligament in his knee while playing for Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy on Wednesday and it will take six weeks to heal. The injury comes after he recovered from a left ankle injury.

Beckham said the injury was a sign that he needed to rest after a hectic month.

He played all of England's 2-1 friendly loss to Germany on Aug. 22 and had only six hours to rest after making the London-to-Los Angeles flight before playing 90 minutes again the following night, losing his temper after one tackle.

Michael Owen, Alan Smith, Andrew Johnson and Jermain Defoe will be England's attacking options for the Israel match, as Peter Crouch is suspended.

Bentley's inclusion was unexpected as he turned down the chance to play for England in the under-21 European Championships in the offseason, saying he was tired.

Bentley was left out of the Germany squad, but McClaren said he had been punished enough.

"He accepted that and he paid the consequences but this is a new squad and he is in it and deserves to be in it," McClaren said.

Ashley Young did play in that tournament, helping England reached the semifinals before losing on penalty kicks, and impressed McClaren.

"He has done well for the under-21s and he has carried that into the beginning of the season," McClaren said. "It is an ideal opportunity to bring in one of the under-21s, which I'm keen to do. It is good to blood these youngsters."