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Beckham mates get set for a booking

Whoever David Beckham may be curling up with next (allegedly), his former premiership colleagues will settle for a good book.

Sol Campbell, the Arsenal defender, has chosen Beowolf: Dragonslayer, by Rosemary Sutcliff, as his favourite, in keeping with his team's regular trouncing of the opposition this season.

Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini settles for John McEnroe's Serious as his favourite book, in the National Literacy Trust's Premier League Reading Stars scheme. As in "you cannot be serious" about sacking a manager who is likely to lead his players to second place in the league and, at the time of going to press, was clinging on to a hope of a Champions' League winner's medal.

Another team with their sights on Europe next season is Aston Villa. Olof Mellberg's choice of Prize Players by Michael Coleman, could be what his team needs to fulfil that dream.

Leicester City's Les Ferdinand has chosen The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: appropriate somehow, as his team now faces the prospect of a long haul back to the Premiership.

At Leeds United, similarly relegated to the Nationwide, after 14 years in the top flight, Lucas Radebe might draw comfort from his favourite book, Silas Marner.

The defender has chosen the George Eliot novel, the story of a man who fell victim to catastrophic loss of all his money but was redeemed by an unexpected gift of an abandoned baby girl.

The club is no doubt hoping for a return to winning form after falling almost pound;100m in debt.

The Reading Stars scheme is being run through libraries and aims to encourage children to read their heroes' favourite books.

David "Calamity" James, the 6ft 5in Manchester City and England goalkeeper, bucks expectations with one of the most famous half-pints in fiction, Tolkein's adventurer Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. He said: "By showing supporters that Premiership footballers have an interest in reading, hopefully I and the other reading champions can inspire people to pick up a book."

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