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Barca attack picking up steam

Barcelona 5 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Aug 31, 2007

Bentley set to be brought in from the cold

Blackburn's David Bentley seems certain to be hauled in from the cold as England coach Steve McClaren seeks to solve a mounting injury crisis ahead of next month's Euro 2008 double-header with Israel and Russia.

McClaren refused to consider the 22-year-old midfielder for this month's friendly with Germany as punishment for his controversial decision to withdraw from this summer's European Under-21 Championships at such a late stage that manager Stuart Pearce could not bring in a replacement.

At the time, McClaren said he considered the matter was now over but there must have been some doubt in Bentley's mind about the likely timing of his return.

But, with players going down at uncomfortably regular intervals for McClaren, it would be a major surprise if the former Arsenal trainee was not included in the squad he will announce at lunchtime.

Although the precise extent of David Beckham's knee injury will not be known until the 32-year-old gets the results of a scan he is due to undergo today, it is virtually certain he will miss out.

And, while Aaron Lennon is pencilled in for a Tottenham comeback against Fulham this weekend, the winger could hardly be described as match fit having spent a month on the sidelines following knee surgery.

Shaun Wright-Phillips will provide cover on the right but Bentley is likely to offer McClaren added insurance as he plots a way to get the minimum requirement of four points from two matches to retain a realistic hope of England reaching next summer's Finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Sol Campbell is expected to be included too even though the Portsmouth defender was forced to pull out of the Germany encounter with a groin problem.

With Jonathan Woodgate now back playing for Middlesbrough as well, McClaren has few defensive concerns, especially now Micah Richards is established as a plausible alternative to Gary Neville at right-back.

Elsewhere though, McClaren has a mass of problems, with Steven Gerrard now a doubt after Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez ruled his captain out of tomorrow's encounter with Derby as he has still not recovered from his broken toe.

'I have spoken to Steven and the news is not very positive,' said Benitez.

'The doctor will continue to help him. But it will be very difficult for him to play against Derby.'

Owen Hargreaves might have begun his Manchester United career but his troublesome knee is yet to be tested by two games in a week.

The same is also true of Michael Owen, who at least has a goal to his name this season, unlike any of the other forwards McClaren has available for the Israel encounter on September 8, when Peter Crouch will be suspended.