First, if the reports are accurate, Beckham will probably never play for England again. Most observers expected this World Cup to be Beckham’s final bite at the international cherry. Age and alternative options were likely to significantly reduce his chances of playing any part in England’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
Second, the door is now open for someone to stake a real claim for the squad place which was assumed to be Beckham’s by right. Remember, this isn’t a first team place we are talking about here. This is a substitute’s position or perhaps a run out in group game if England have already qualified for the last 16. It’s not as if we’ve lost someone who could reasonably be expected to play in every game.
Third, this is an opportunity for Capello to try something else other than the special teams route which Beckham had come to personify. World Cup winners keep hold of the ball and don’t rely on crosses to win games. The England team now has the chance to imagine a future where the ball is on the ground, not in the air. Peter Crouch proved he could do this just as well in the recent friendly against Egypt.
So what are the papers saying this morning?
The Telegraph casts doubt on Beckham’s future. A rupture of the achilles tendon is not an easy injury for a 34-year-old to overcome. The paper also quotes a “sad” Fabio Capello.
The Times quotes the doctor who will operate on Beckham sometime today. He reckons it will be three to four months before Beckham can play football again. The injury is merely an inconvenience to the team anyway, says Oliver Kay.
Sam Wallace of The Independent sums it all up: at least it wasn’t Rooney. The same writer has lots of detail on England’s mounting injury worries.
The Guardian’s Rob Smyth says the injury is “a minor blow” to England.
The Daily Mail says Beckham’s injury is “a big blow”, but it isn’t clear whether this is a reference to Beckham’s or England’s World Cup prospects.
“Capello had planned to use Beckham as a 'closing pitcher', looking to use the veteran to see out the final 15 minutes of games,” says the Daily Mirror. Instead, Beckham’s career may now be over.
And the Daily Express will kick themselves once they realise what’s happened to Beckham. Their site didn’t mention the story this morning.