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By ESPN Staff
Aug 25, 2007

McClaren no regrets over playing Beckham

Steve McClaren has no regrets about asking David Beckham to make the first of his trans-Atlantic trips last week. Despite an acute lack of match practice since his arrival at LA Galaxy, Beckham managed to complete the full 90 minutes on Wednesday as England slipped to defeat against Germany, before doing the same again for his club 24 hours later, again experiencing the losing feeling, 3-0 to Chivas. For the first time, Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas has expressed concern about the amount of miles Beckham will be required to travel over the next few months as he combines his commitments to both club and country. Another game has now been added to the schedule following confirmation England will tackle European Championship co-hosts Austria in a friendly in Vienna on November 16. While that trip will not impact on Beckham too much given the Major League Soccer season ends in October, there are concerns about the 32-year-old's well-being. Given England are facing five crucial qualifiers over the next three months which will determine whether they reach next summer's finals, Wednesday's friendly was one Beckham might have missed, especially given his fitness levels and the fact he was also due to play the following night. But McClaren is adamant he made the right choice by selecting Beckham, who he feels will have benefited from the experience. 'It would have been daft for us not to bring David over,' said McClaren. 'He needed a full 90 minutes, especially at this level. 'It was good preparation for the games against Israel and Russia in two weeks' time. 'We wanted to expose him to that quality pace of game and he also created chances for us.' Like many of his team-mates, a lack of match sharpness caught up with Beckham. McClaren felt a general tiredness near the end took the gloss of what had been an excellent first 25 minutes until Paul Robinson's blunder gifted Germany their equaliser. Robinson's place is now under serious threat from David James, with Manchester United's Michael Carrick among those also at risk. With Gary Neville almost certainly ruled out with a thigh strain, England's defence virtually picks itself, leaving McClaren to sort out his midfield and attack. Although neither Michael Owen nor Alan Smith particularly impressed, McClaren saw enough from both men to be convinced about them being an effective pairing against Israel in a fortnight. Owen's game should certainly have improved markedly and the chances are if he gets the same chances against the Israelis that he received at the end of Wednesday's opening period, at least one of them will finish up in the net. 'Michael will score goals,' said McClaren. 'I would be more worried if he wasn't getting there and he wasn't having the chances.' Smith's single international goal will not strike fear into too many top-class defences and there must be a chance McClaren will attempt to reinforce his midfield by recalling Owen Hargreaves and allow Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard more licence to attack. However, for now, McClaren retains confidence in Smith's effectiveness. 'I was encouraged by the front two,' he said. 'In the first 25 minutes we caused them problems and Alan was better than when he played against Brazil in June.'