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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 15:30 GMT
Beckham returns to England squad
David Beckham and Steve McClaren
Beckham has proved his fitness to England coach McClaren
David Beckham has been recalled to England's squad for the friendly in Austria and the final Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.

If Russia beat Israel and Andorra - and Croatia avoid defeat in Macedonia on 17 November - England cannot qualify even if they beat Croatia four days later.

Beckham has recovered from injury and England coach Steve McClaren said: "We need big-game players like David."

Captain John Terry and striker Wayne Rooney are both out with injuries.

Rooney dropped out of the squad after picking up an ankle injury while training with Manchester United on Friday.

McClaren said: "Given the form he has been in and the contribution he has made to England over the last two games means it is a blow.

"I believe that with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry also out of the squad we are lacking experience. We need those big players with experience and David is one of those."

England play Austria in the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna next Friday 16 November, then face Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday 21 November.


McClaren travelled to Los Angeles to meet Beckham and discuss his current condition with the fitness team at his LA Galaxy club in readiness for bringing him back.

And McClaren said: "I went out to Los Angeles because it was important to check him out and do my job. He is fit and he is in the squad.

"David is a very important player to us. He proved his importance when he came back into the squad in the summer. His performances warranted inclusion."

England's under-pressure coach is still holding out hope of qualification, adding: "I still believe Croatia will be a big game. We have got to be positive but we are disappointed that we are in the situation where it is out of our hands - that is a big regret.

"We have got to hope that Israel, a proud nation with a great home record, get a result against Russia."

Chelsea's Ashley Cole is back after missing the defeat in Russia with an ankle injury sustained in the 3-0 win against Estonia at Wembley.

Terry pulled out of the Moscow defeat after his injury flared up in England's final training session and has since had an operation.

Chelsea's Wayne Bridge is also back in contention after regaining fitness, a boost for McClaren, who used Everton's Joleon Lescott as an emergency left-back in the Moscow defeat.

Rio Ferdinand is suspended for the Croatia game and has not been considered, but Micah Richards is included despite suffering a knee injury.

McClaren also claimed Chelsea midfield man Frank Lampard's return to form has piled on the pressure for places.

He said: "The time out with his injury has done him a lot of good. He looks sharp, he's playing well and he's scoring goals.

"It creates a welcome problem and gives me the headache all managers want."

Former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf played against Beckham in a pro-celebrity charity match in Los Angeles last weekend and believes he can still make a contribution for England.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "He seems to be sharp and seems to have the intelligence for the game. My only concern would be physically, with the speed of European football compared to what he is now used to day by day.

"It might be a little bit different, but I am sure he can do his bit."

Arsenal striker Theo Walcott had been touted for a recall to the squad, but he has instead been included in coach Stuart Pearce's under-21 squad.

The FA, meanwhile, has played down reports suggesting that talks were being planned to discuss McClaren's future should England fail to qualify for Euro 2008.

"There is no board meeting scheduled and that is absolutely categorical," said Premier League chairman dave Richards, a member of the FA's international committee.

England squad: Robinson, Carson, James, P Neville, Campbell, Richards, Brown, Lescott, Shorey, Bridge, A Cole, Beckham, Wright-Phillips, Bentley, Gerrard, Lampard, Hargreaves, Barry, J Cole, Downing, Young, Smith, Crouch, Defoe, Owen.

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