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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

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Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

McClaren to call up large friendly squad

England coach Steve McClaren is set to name a huge squad for next Wednesday's clash with Germany to insulate himself against an expected mass of withdrawals. Already McClaren has been informed by Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez that Steven Gerrard will not play, even though the Reds captain is apparently able to face Chelsea on Sunday despite his broken toe. Having declared his intention to call up John Terry, Owen Hargreaves, Michael Owen and David Beckham in order to ensure they are part of the build-up despite recent lack of match practice, there is no reason to think McClaren will not try to persuade Benitez to let Gerrard link up as well. After 12 months in the job, McClaren is acutely aware the team he has in his head right now is not the one likely to be available next week at Wembley. But he wants to develop a `Team England' ethos as the Euro 2008 qualifiers reach their pivotal stage, which is why the squad he announces today will be on the large side. 'The squad I have in my mind and the team I have in my mind now could very easily change before we meet up Monday - and it will do,' he said. 'I know that. It has happened in the past and it will happen again. 'But what I want to do is establish a squad of players that we will use in the period until November. 'I do want players on the fringe but I also want to be able to stick with what we have.' In addition to Gerrard, Tottenham duo Ledley King and Aaron Lennon are also out, as are Manchester United's Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney. Much speculation surrounds Blackburn's David Bentley, who excelled in the B international against Albania in May but then caused immense frustration to Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce by withdrawing from his squad for the European Under-21 Championships at such a late stage he was unable to call in a replacement. McCaren declared his intention to speak with Bentley before naming his squad although, with Shaun Wright-Phillips producing his best form since joining Chelsea two years ago, the former Arsenal wide man is not an automatic pick anyway. Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka have also been mentioned in despatches by McClaren, while Sol Campbell's hopes of being involved have been hit by a groin injury that kept him out of Portsmouth's midweek draw with Manchester United.