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Rediff.com  » Sports » Beckham back to get England on track

Beckham back to get England on track

June 05, 2007 15:36 IST

David Beckham gets a chance to put England's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign back on track against Estonia on Wednesday after a stirring return to the national side.

Dropped after last year's World Cup by newly-installed coach Steve McClaren, the 32-year-old made an impressive comeback in Friday's 1-1 friendly draw with Brazil and is almost certain to start in Tallinn.

McClaren's men certainly need the kind of Beckham cross which lined up John Terry, his successor as England captain, to open the scoring in the Wembley draw.

Wayne Rooney is suspended, strike partner Michael Owen still lacks sharpness after long-term injury and Alan Smith made little impression against Brazil.

It leaves a side who have hit nine goals in six qualifiers - eight of them against hapless Andorra - in need of goalscoring help from midfield and even defence.

England's qualifying campaign is stalling badly, particularly in the wake of last weekend's results for their Group E rivals.

Leaders Croatia now have 16 points, Israel 14 after playing a game more, Russia also have 14 while England are fourth on 11 points.

Anything but victory against a side ranked 110th in world, just behind Hong Kong but just ahead of Syria and Malta, would be calamitous for the World Cup quarter-finalists.

Estonia have failed to score a goal or a point in qualifying and a slip by England could also prove fatal for McClaren's tenure, which has yet to convince sceptics in the British media.

He is likely to opt for Owen and the towering Peter Crouch up front, hoping the latter will benefit from Beckham's crosses, with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard pushing forward from midfield.

There are more options at the back, where Nicky Shorey faces competition from Wayne Bridge, if fit, for the left back slot while Jamie Carragher could make way for Phil Neville on the right.

Estonia coach Jelle Goes, whose men lost 1-0 to Croatia at the weekend, was stoical as he prepared for Wednesday's game.

"It is very difficult to play two top-class meetings in four days," he was quoted as telling the Postmees Daily. "But we will give our all."

Probable teams:

Estonia - Mart Poom; Alo Baerengrub, Enar Jaager, Andrei Stepanov, Dmitri Kruglov; Aleksandr Dmitrijev, Tarmo Neemelo, Konstantin Vassiljev, Ragnar Klavan; Vladimir Voskoboinikov, Joel Lindpere

England - Paul Robinson; Jamie Carragher, Ledley King, John Terry, Nicky Shorey; David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole; Peter Crouch, Michael Owen

Source:
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