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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Long-haul Beckham
By Tom Fordyce & Ian Hughes

David Beckham
Beckham's impact in his two games has probably been enough to see him picked again
If David Beckham is to continue his England career under Steve McClaren, he'd better get used to the sight of airport check-in desks.

When Beckham - Man of the Match in England's 3-0 win in Estonia on Wednesday - plays for England after his move to LA Galaxy, he will be embarking on an epic series of long-distance flights.

Will the former England skipper be able to cope with the demands?

Consider the following:

  • England have six matches scheduled before the end of November.

  • If they then qualify for Euro 2008, they are likely to follow a similar pattern to four years ago and schedule in a further five friendlies before the start of the tournament.

  • Assuming that Beckham keeps his place in the team - which seems likely - he can therefore expect to make 9 return trips from Los Angeles to London for football reasons alone - on two occasions England play two games within a few days of each other.

  • If he takes one of the few direct flights on that route - for example, British Airways Flight 269 - he can expect to be in the air for just over 11 hours each way.

  • That equates to around 180 hours of flying for England duty alone - ignoring the thousands of miles he will clock up for games with the Galaxy and for personal reasons.

  • He will also cover around 100,000 miles in the air just to make England commitments - and that is without adding on the additional air miles he will rack up flying on from London with the team for away fixtures.

    If he keeps his England place, he will also be unavailable for a large number of LA Galaxy matches.

    Assuming that he does not pick up any injuries on international duty, or suffer any delays in getting back, he will miss six of their MLS league matches.

    But his predicament is worsened by the fact that Galaxy's schedule includes away fixtures against teams like New York Red Bulls (11 hours return flight), DC United (10 hours return flight) and New England Revolution (another 11 hours).

    Eleven trips is a lot for Beckham to make

    Reading and USA's Bobby Convey

    One option for Beckham - on flights back to the UK at least - would be to spend some of his multi-million pound Galaxy salary on a share in a private jet.

    The cost of taking a private jet across the Atlantic would vary between 40,000-70,000, depending on the size of the plane and its availability.

    Edward Rom, managing director of Private Jet Charter, says: "The kind of plane used for those trips comes equipped with fully-flat, luxury double beds - we're talking serious comfort.

    "I would say that travelling on these planes is more comfortable than the first-class option with a major airline.

    "And of course, stars can easily slip on and off the planes - as well as travel on them - without any hassles or unwanted attention.

    "I would imagine Beckham has a share in a private jet ownership scheme or has bought air miles or hours to be used on private jets.

    "Alternatively, he could just pay for each jet as and when he needs one."

    One man who knows exactly what Beckham could go through is Reading's USA winger Bobby Convey.

    David Beckham
    Beckham is believed to be desperate to win a 100th England cap
    Convey regularly does the reverse journey to Beckham - flying across the Atlantic from London to the US for international matches before returning home to the Premiership.

    And if Beckham were to have as much time with England around matches as Convey does with the US, the number of games he could play with the Galaxy would be sliced even further.

    "It is definitely difficult," Convey told BBC Sport.

    "I went back about seven or eight times last season, and it definitely took a toll towards the end.

    "If I play for Reading on the Saturday, I'll leave on the Sunday to meet up with the USA national team.

    "We won't play until the next weekend - we'll play on Saturday and then the following Wednesday. I'll fly back on Thursday and play for Reading on Saturday."

    According to Convey, the key is resting after the long flights - but that will impinge on the time Beckham has to train.

    "The gaffer (Steve Coppell) at Reading is great with me," says Convey. "He allows me to rest for a couple of days when I get back from international duty.

    "After two or three days rest you feel a lot better, although he'll need to eat the right foods and drink a lot of water.

    "It's a lot easier travelling for eight or nine hours when you're sleeping in a bed in first class rather than sitting upright in an uncomfortable seat in economy.

    "The MLS season also isn't as hard as a Premiership season. Beckham will have a lot more rest in the States."

    Bobby Convey
    Convey in action for the USA against Mexico last season

    MLS rules state that teams must travel to away matches on scheduled flights. Privately-chartered flights are seen as an unfair advantage to the wealthier teams.

    But Convey thinks it is unlikely that Beckham will be seen queuing in departure lounges with Joe Schmoe, Mrs Schmoe and all the little Schmoes.

    "All the MLS teams travel on regular flights. But I think it will be different in Beckham's case. I don't think they can get him on a commercial flight - because of his popularity.

    "Everyone in the States is banking on Beckham to do well, so they are pulling out all the stops for him. He's not going to be in economy with a little kid sitting in front of him.

    "It is a growing league and they're trying to build the fan base so they will use Beckham to help do that. I'm sure they will charter flights for him. It's a soccer league but it's also a business.

    "Eleven trips is a lot for Beckham to make. But with the MLS season lasting only for seven months, he should get time to recover."

    Beckham commits to England cause
    07 Jun 07 |  Internationals
    Estonia 0-3 England
    06 Jun 07 |  Internationals
    Beckham back to stay, says Hoddle
    03 Jun 07 |  Internationals
    England return delights Beckham
    02 Jun 07 |  Internationals
    McClaren salutes Beckham display
    01 Jun 07 |  Internationals
    England 1-1 Brazil
    01 Jun 07 |  Internationals
    Beckham agrees to LA Galaxy move
    12 Jan 07 |  Football


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