Int Football – Team news: Becks hopes to start


Fabio Capello must decide whether to play David Beckham from the start in the friendly against France in Paris, having revealed that the LA Galaxy midfielder will definitely be awarded his 100th cap in the game.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 England Beckham - 0

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France v England (20:00 GMT)

Blackburn midfielder David Bentley impressed in Capello’s first game in charge – the 2-1 win over Switzerland at Wembley last month – but he will be the man to make way should Beckham start the game on the right.

Rio Ferdinand will lead the team out after being given the captain’s armband by Capello, who confirmed that the captaincy will be rotated prior to the commencement of England’s World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign in the autumn.

Michael Owen has boosted his chances of a starting role with two goals in his last two games for Newcastle, but he may have to content himself with a seat on the bench if Capello opts to deploy the same 4-5-1 formation he fielded against the Swiss.

Wayne Rooney will start up front, and could be supported from midfield by Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, with Owen Hargreaves or Gareth Barry shielding the back four.

In-form Portsmouth goalkeeper David James is expected to hold onto the number one jersey, while Wes Brown should continue at right-back in place of injured clubmate Gary Neville.

In the French camp, injuries to Thierry Henry and Lyon hot-shot Karim Benzema have opened the door for Juventus’s leading scorer David Trezeguet, who hasn’t featured for Les Bleus since the shock 1-0 home defeat to Scotland in September.

Trezeguet is likely to start up front alongside Chelsea‘s Nicolas Anelka, who himself returned to the France set-up last year after being left out of the squad for the 2006 World Cup by coach Raymond Domenech.

Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira has been forced to withdraw from the squad with a thigh injury, meaning Anelka’s team-mate Claude Makelele could start in defensive midfield alongside Lyon’s Jeremy Toulalan.

Scotland v Croatia (20:00 GMT)

Scotland boss George Burley has revealed he will delay selecting his team for the friendly with Euro 2008 qualifiers Croatia until after the squad’s last training session on Wednesday morning.

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has recovered from an illness and should start in midfield in the absence through injury of captain Barry Ferguson, while Burley has confirmed that Celtic skipper Stephen McManus will wear the armband in the Rangers man’s place.

Ferguson and Birmingham striker James McFadden head a lengthy injury list that also includes Rangers trio Lee McCulloch, Allan McGregor and Christian Dailly, Celtic’s Barry Robson and Derby midfielder Stephen Pearson.

This is Croatia’s last game before their Euro 2008 campaign kicks off with a match against co-hosts Austria on June 8, as coach Slaven Bilic prepares for life without long-term injury victim Eduardo.

One man who could benefit from the Arsenal striker’s absence is Werder Bremen forward Ivan Klasnic, restored to the squad for the first time since October 2006 after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a kidney problem.

After a goal-scoring return for Bremen Klasnic will be on the bench at Hampden Park, with Mladen Petric and Ivica Olic starting up front.

Croatia (4-1-3-2): Pletikosa; Corluka, R. Kovac, Simunic, Pranjic; N. Kovac; Srna, Modric, Kranjcar; Petric, Olic

Tom Williams / Eurosport