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MLS won't ruin Beckham: Steve McLaren

England manager talks to Beckham about his fitness ahead of England's friendly game with Germany at Wembley on August 22.

sports Updated: Aug 16, 2007 14:11 IST


England manager Steve McLaren insisted on Wednesday that David Beckham's international career would not be harmed by playing club football in the United States.

McLaren flew across the Atlantic Ocean for talks with Beckham about his fitness ahead of England's friendly game with Germany at Wembley on August 22.

The 32-year-old former England captain has been struggling with an ankle injury since he joined Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy in July.

McLaren dropped Beckham from the England squad on taking over after the 2006 World Cup, but recalled him in May after his impressive performances for Real Madrid.

And, after chatting with Beckham, Galaxy coach Frank Yallop and general manager Alexi Lalas, and being able to see an MLS game in person, McLaren is more convinced than ever that Beckham can play a major role in his side's bid to reach Euro 2008.

"It was important to see how David was and to establish a relationship with the backroom people at LA Galaxy, just as I would with any club in England," McLaren told a press conference.

"They were very supportive. They understand where I am coming from and I understand where they are coming from. But the other thing I needed to do was look at the standard of the MLS."

"As long as he is playing competitive football, is motivated and fit, has got some goals ahead of him and the standard is OK, there would be no detriment to his performance. There are enough games between now and November for that to happen and as long as that continues, he will be an asset to us," he said.

Although understandably frustrated at the delayed start to his American adventure, Beckham indicated to McLaren his enthusiasm for life in Los Angeles remains undimmed.

It is the kind of upbeat attitude McLaren will need later in the next three months when England's 2008 European Championships qualification fate is determined in five games, four of which are played at Wembley.

"David is positive and bright," said McLaren. He is enjoying the experience but is frustrated by his injury.

"I was reassured by his determination to play for England and, if at all possible, we would like him to join us for training on Monday."

Given Beckham's lack of recent match practice, McLaren knows he needs cover in the right-sided midfield slot whether England's famed former captain flies back to London next week or not.

Beckham played a full part in Galaxy's training for the first time on Tuesday.

McLaren said of Beckham's ankle injury: "We've got to assess it over the next few days. He'll be in the squad, we want him to come over and play a part against Germany."

"We'll be keeping in close contact with him and the Galaxy medical staff to see his condition."

First Published: Aug 16, 2007 12:40 IST