international friendly

Resting Beckham to discover England fate

November 15, 2008

David Beckham will find out at 1900 GMT on Saturday whether he will get the chance to earn an historic 108th cap in Berlin next Wednesday.

Beckham was expected to be part of Fabio Capello's squad for England's first meeting with a unified Germany in the capital city since 1938.

However, LA Galaxy's woeful MLS campaign ended on October 26, since when Beckham has not played a competitive match, raising a massive question mark over his chances of being in Capello's squad.

The 33-year-old collected his 107th cap as a substitute against Belarus, leaving him just one short of Bobby Moore's record for an outfield player, although, as he has agreed a short-term loan with AC Milan from the New Year, if the former Manchester United man does not reach the milestone next week, he should get there in a planned friendly with Spain in February.

There seems even less chance of Michael Owen being involved even though he has played a part in Newcastle's last two games after missing three matches with a groin injury.

Owen was not considered fit enough for the September double-header against Andorra and Croatia at a similar period in his recovery, so it is hard to see why Capello would change his mind now.

Manchester City keeper Joe Hart, Middlesbrough defender David Wheater and Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor can look forward to the squad announcement with more confidence.

The trio were the most notable absentees from Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad to face the Czech Republic on Tuesday and as they are all currently fit, it seems certain their omission is merely due to their involvement at senior level.

Much to the consternation of City boss Mark Hughes and Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate, Hart - who made his England debut as a substitute against Trinidad and Tobago in June - and Wheater were put on an overnight flight to Minsk last month to link up with a depleted squad for the World Cup qualifying win over Belarus.

Agbonlahor, a man Capello has been watching keenly for some time, should have been on the trip as well but was forced to pull out with a hamstring injury picked up in the European Under-21 Championship triumph over Wales at Villa Park.

As he said immediately after the Belarus encounter that he would use next week's friendly in the Olympic Stadium and the planned February trip to Spain to experiment, it seems a fair bet that all three will be in the squad Capello confirms tomorrow night.

Capello already knows he will be without three regular members of his squad.

Chelsea pair Ashley and Joe Cole are both missing with hamstring problems while Emile Heskey, who has emerged as an unlikely pivotal figure in England's bid to reach South Africa 2010 is currently sidelined by a calf strain.