YARM, England England coach Steve McClaren is hoping David Beckham's experience can help lead his team to the European Championship.
They'll have to do without star striker Wayne Rooney, who injured his ankle in practice with Manchester United on Friday and will be sidelined four weeks.
News of Rooney's injury reached McClaren shortly after he announced what could be his last team, his future in doubt as England looks to qualifying for next year's championship.
"It's hugely disappointing for us and him, given the form he's been in and the impact he's made in the last few games," McClaren said of Rooney. "It's a blow to deal with but we've dealt with it before and we'll deal with it again."
Beckham, who recently returned from a knee injury, was included to play against Austria in an exhibition Nov. 16 and the potentially decisive Euro qualifier with Croatia five days later.
"He is a big-game player," McClaren said. "He is an experienced player who has never let England down."
McClaren made a trip to Los Angeles last weekend to judge the fitness of Beckham, who he initially dropped after taking over as coach in August 2006.
"The injury is fine, the fitness is fine," McClaren said.
Beckham returns after the qualifying campaign got off to a stuttering start. Beckham's injury forced him to miss wins against Israel and Russia at Wembley in September and England's 2-1 defeat in Russia last month.
Rooney was sidelined for the home matches, but scored in Moscow.
McClaren will be lacking experience in defense, with captain John Terry ruled out because of injuries and the suspension of center back Rio Ferdinand.
When England plays Austria, Beckham will be looking to add to his 97 international appearances. He'd like to bring his total to 100, but he may finish with 99 if England fails to qualify for the European Championship.