England star may miss Portman Road clash

THEY are being called the hottest tickets in town.But fans who consider themselves fortunate to have secured seats for the historic international friendly at Portman Road next month must already be wondering if they have done the right thing.

By Mel Henderson

THEY are being called the hottest tickets in town.

But fans who consider themselves fortunate to have secured seats for the historic international friendly at Portman Road next month must already be wondering if they have done the right thing.

They have forked out good money, with booking fees on top, to see England's top stars on parade against Croatia.

Or have they? Will they instead be 'treated' to a second-rate show, starring international wannabes who, in reality, have little or no chance of featuring in Sven Goran Eriksson's squad?

The Football Association were crowing about the August 20 game being a complete sell-out within two and a half hours of the tickets going on sale on Sunday morning.

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But no sooner had they congratulated themselves on a job well done than Eriksson was putting a real dampener on the situation.

He stopped short of saying that England skipper David Beckham would not play any part in the big game at Portman Road.

But he was also reluctant to confirm that Real Madrid's latest big-money star would definitely put in an appearance.

Eriksson went on to spout some gibberish about not being sure whether Beckham will be ready to play, then added: "We haven't made any decisions about David yet."

I don't know about you, but I think the England boss is trying to tell us something – and in his usual roundabout way.

I wouldn't put tuppence on Beckham turning up for this game and I wouldn't mind betting he isn't the only non-starter.

The Premiership season gets under way on August 16, just four days before the long-awaited game hosted by Town.

Given the ongoing club v country feud, and the fact that little or nothing has been resolved by countless meetings on the subject, how many managers will be happy to wave farewell to their players at such an early stage of the new campaign?

The clamour for tickets for what will, in all probability, be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, was entirely predictable.

But was it pure coincidence that Eriksson should put a question mark against Beckham's availability once all the seats had been sold?

The question is pertinent, since declaring Beckham's likely non-appearance would have done nothing to stimulate sales.

I imagine a huge proportion of those who swamped the telephone booking lines, or persisted on the internet, will be devastated to learn that Beckham probably won't be anywhere near Portman Road.

Come to think of it, will the fans be watching England – or England reserves?

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