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McClaren set to drop Beckham

Reports suggest that new England manager Steve McClaren will drop former captain David Beckham from his squad ahead of his first match in charge against Greece on August 16th.

The Real Madrid midfielder returned to action for the Galaticos in a friendly on Thursday after recovering from an Achilles injury that forced him off against Portugal in the World Cup quarter-final.

But the 31-year-old will be excluded from the 24-man squad to be announced at 1500 BST on Friday.

Beckham stepped down as skipper in June after England's exit to the Portuguese but insisted that he would continue playing for his country.

But Beckham's omission from McClaren's first squad could signal the end of his international career with Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips waiting in the wings to replace him.

Lennon impressed in his substitute performances in Germany and would be the preferred choice down the right wing, while Wright-Phillips will need to attain more first-team action at Chelsea before receiving another call-up.

John Terry, who was named as Beckham's replacement as captain on Thursday, will lead the team out while the majority of Sven-Goran Eriksson's World Cup squad will keep their places.

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe is expected to replace Arsenal forward Theo Walcott who was selected for the under-21 squad to face Moldova on Tuesday night, while West Ham's Dean Ashton is likely to earn his first call-up.

Wayne Rooney's suspension will stop him from appearing in the first two of England's Euro 2008 qualifiers, so McClaren will be eager to watch Ashton, Defoe and, possibly, Andy Johnson after their omission from his predecessors World Cup squad.

Michael Owen, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Robert Green are certainly ruled out by injury and there are serious doubts about the fitness of Manchester United defenders Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville.

McClaren cannot call upon the injured Ledley King to fill the gaps in defence so he may turn to Portsmouth's new recruit Sol Campbell or Michael Dawson to bolster the back four.

The 45-year-old will also announce his backroom staff in the press conference with former England manager Terry Venables set to be named his assistant manager, while Steve Round, his assistant at Middlesbrough, will be employed as a part-time coach to replace Sammy Lee who resigned on 8 August.

The Yorkshireman has already confirmed he is retaining Ray Clemence as goalkeeping coach and sports psychologist Bill Beswick may take a non-coaching role on the staff.