England outing will help Beckham - McClaren
Steve McClaren is confident an England appearance for David Beckham at Wembley tonight will help, not hinder his recovery from a long-standing ankle problem.
Beckham appeared to suffer a reaction to the injury he aggravated on his return to the international arena in June when he completed his first full 90 minutes for Los Angeles Galaxy in their defeat to New York Red Bulls at the weekend.
At the time, it appeared highly unlikely the former England captain would feature in the sell-out friendly against Germany.
However, Beckham made the first of what could be a series of punishing trans-Atlantic trips anyway - and appears to have made a startling recovery, judging by his performances in training.
While McClaren is sensitive to the needs of all club managers a fortnight before the competitive action begins for the Three Lions against Israel and Russia, the England coach is adamant Beckham should face Germany if he is able to.
'I don't see how rest can benefit him,' said McClaren.
'He is just returning to fitness after his ankle injury, so he needs minutes on the field.
'He has looked very good in training so far, and if we can give him some time on the pitch against Germany that is going to benefit us against Israel.'
With 90,000 fans in the stadium and millions more watching at home, McClaren can hardly describe a meeting with the three-time world champions, whose last visit prompted Kevin Keegan's shock resignation, as meaningless.
Certainly for the likes of Micah Richards and Michael Carrick, who is expected to fill a central midfield role alongside Frank Lampard, it is a priceless opportunity to impress.
'One man's injury is another man's opportunity,' reflected McClaren.
'If you take your opportunity it can put you in the team later on, so these are important games for them.'
The same could also be said of either Peter Crouch or Alan Smith, one of whom is likely to find himself up front alongside Michael Owen in what could be a far stronger line-up than most pundits anticipated a week ago.
Crouch would normally be an automatic choice, but the Liverpool forward's appearances have been restricted this term.
He is also suspended for the Israel game, which may just tip the balance in Alan Smith's favour - raising the prospect of an all-Newcastle forward line starting for England for the first time since Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand faced Poland in 1996.
'Peter is a consideration - but first and foremost, we have to prepare for the Israel game and look at one or two things we might want to try,' said McClaren, who went against previous convention for friendly matches and declined to name his team 24 hours in advance.
'Alan Smith's attitude and commitment is fantastic. He has needed that to come back from his injury.
'He knows he can be better - but after a full pre-season, his conditioning is a lot better now.'