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McClaren drops Beckham, gives rookie keeper his debut

McClaren appears set to gamble by giving goalkeeper Scott Carson his full international debut in place of Paul Robinson.

sports Updated: Nov 21, 2007 18:26 IST

England manager Steve McClaren has dropped David Beckham for the decisive Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday, according to reports.

McClaren, whose time in the England hot seat could come to an end depending on the result of their final group E clash, appears set to gamble further by giving goalkeeper Scott Carson his full international debut in place of Paul Robinson.

Beckham has been lacking incisive fitness in recent months following his long recovery from injury, and it was generally felt in the England camp that the LA Galaxy midfielder would struggle to last 90 minutes.

The biggest surprise is that McClaren is set to give Carson, who made his debut last Friday in a friendly with Austria, his debut for what is perhaps England's most important match in years.

However McClaren said he was confident the 22-year-old keeper will rise to the challenge.

"There is risk in everything," said McClaren.

"It does not matter what age you are. You can be a big-game player at 18 or 33."

"My mind was made up about the goalkeeping situation long before the squad came back together again on Sunday.

"Experience can be invaluable but so can the innocence of youth. The fact is we need big-game players on Wednesday night."

Carson kept a clean sheet on his Premier League debut for Leeds at Manchester United as a raw teenager, emerged victorious in a Champions League quarter-final against Juventus on one of his rare starts for Liverpool and spent last season unsuccessfully battling against the drop with Charlton.

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gareth Barry meanwhile are set to be handed starts at the expense of Beckham and Owen Hargreaves.

McClaren said he was looking for the Wright-Phillips/Barry partnership, which proved influential during their autumn campaignestion, to re-emerge.

"The reason we have done so well in the second half of the campaign is that we have played as a team," said McClaren.

"It is not about individuals, it is about a team ethic. That is what we have in this squad and that is what we have to keep.

"The last three games Shaun Wright-Phillips has played at Wembley have been very good."

"He has scored a couple of goals and created chances. We have spoken about having pace on both flanks and Shaun has given us that."

First Published: Nov 21, 2007 16:16 IST