Beckham's form posing questions for McClaren

February 21, 2007

David Beckham will be given a month to prove he still has a future in Steve McClaren's England set-up.

The England manager was at the Bernabeu last night to watch the former national team captain create two goals for Real Madrid in their 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich, and play a major role in another.

Beckham's man-of-the-match performance capped an amazing recent turnaround in the 31-year-old's fortunes, after his career in Spain seemed over.

Real coach Fabio Capello had vowed to never again pick the former Manchester United midfielder after he signed a contract to join the Los Angeles Galaxy when his current deal expires this summer.

But the Italian has been forced to relent in the face of mounting pressure from supporters, and McClaren admits he may also have no choice but to recall the man he unceremoniously dumped as one of his first acts as England boss.

Asked whether Beckham could return for next month's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra, he told Sky Sports News: 'I've always said that.

'We have four weeks before the squad is announced and we will see what happens in those four weeks.'

Of Beckham's resurgence, he added: 'It gives me a problem, one of the problems you welcome.

'He's being professional and performing well for his club - obviously that's a problem I would rather have than not have. It's interesting.

'The reaction from every adversity he's ever gone through in his career, he's always bounced back and been professional and got on with his job.

'It's pleasing to see that a month ago he would never play for Real Madrid again and there he is starring in a game against Bayern Munich and being man of the match.'

Last night's thrilling Champions League last-16 first leg gave McClaren further reason to be pleased, with Bayern midfielder Owen Hargreaves also playing a pivotal role for his side.

After months out of the game with a broken leg, during which time he has missed England's last four winless matches, McClaren cannot wait to have him back.

He said: 'You saw last night what he brings to a team - great tempo, gets around the park, puts tackles in, one of those defensive midfielders who breaks up play and puts you on the attack. I think we've been missing that.

'It's unbelievable what he's been through.

'He had a minor operation last week to remove something from his gall bladder, and there he is a week later performing in the Bernabeu. Incredible.'

The likes of Aaron Lennon, John Terry and Wayne Rooney should also return for the match in Tel Aviv on March 24, and McClaren believes they will make a huge difference to his much-maligned team.

'Seven or eight we couldn't choose against Spain (will be back),' he predicted.

'They were a huge loss but hopefully in the time we have got those players will return to play and return to form.'

He added: 'Everybody will admit that, post-World Cup, the form of the players over the first few months wasn't at the top.

'Now they get back into Champions League football you will see the form of these top players coming good, and that's important not just for the clubs but also for England.'