LONDON David Bentley already knew that taking David Beckham's place on the England team was hard enough, even before the Los Angeles Galaxy star began scoring goals from 70 meters.
Beckham scored the Galaxy's goal into an empty net in a 3-1 victory over Kansas City on Saturday after the Wizards goalkeeper was at the other end of the field trying to score an equalizer.
Now he has flown into London to face some familiar players when England meets the United States at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.
While Beckham is expected to make his 101st appearance, Bentley hopes that before too long he will take his place on the right side of midfield on a regular basis.
"The levels he's reached in his career are so high. I really respect him but I'm here to take his place," said the Blackburn winger, who has played four times for his country.
"David Beckham is loved by the world, by everyone. I admire him really highly as a man and as a player. It will be difficult to get past him. He's got everything. But I will be trying my hardest, doing the best I can and we'll see what happens."
Like Beckham, the 23-year-old Bentley scores free kicks and passes accurately with his right foot. But he will need to keep improving if he is to become a regular starter.
"I have to keep performing and playing to a high level and keep working hard," he said Monday. "The levels David has reached are fantastic, but I know I have to go every day to training and be aiming to reach those levels and go higher. You want to push yourself on to the next level and I'll be looking to play as many games as I can to push on to the next step.
Bentley, who started his career with Arsenal, said he had not spoken to Rovers teammate Brad Friedel about what to expect from the American lineup. Although Friedel no longer plays for the U.S., seven of Bob Bradley's squad are in the Premier League.
"They will be eager to impress," Bentley said. "They will be just like us. They want to perform, you've got 80,000 people and the TV there and no one wants to put a bad performance in."
Michael Owen, Jermaine Jenas and backup goalkeeper Chris Kirkland have pulled out of the England squad because sickness or injury, and Jonathan Spector is a doubtful starter for the Americans because of a hip injury.
DaMarcus Beasley, whose goal helped Rangers win the Scottish Cup on Saturday in a 3-2 victory over Queen of the South at Hampden Park, is looking to score at Wembley.
"I would definitely love to score. They are two great stadiums. Hampden has a lot of history and so does Wembley. I'm excited about playing there," Beasley said.
The U.S. is preparing for World Cup qualifying games against Barbados next month, and has two more friendlies against Spain (June 4) and Argentina (June 8) to prepare for those matches.
"The friendlies take care of themselves, but we want a good run before we go into the World Cup qualifiers," Beasley said. "These games are important as it important we come together as a team over the next three weeks or so.
"My favorite memory so far is definitely playing in the '02 World Cup. We got to the quarterfinals and were unlucky not to beat Germany. And we beat Portugal in the first game 3-2. I was at the start of my career with only 15 caps or something like that and that was amazing.
"That's when people started noticing us, after that World Cup. Teams were no longer thinking they could put on some sandals and beat us 3 or 4 nothing. We are getting better every year and our players are getting stronger."