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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 30, 2006

Phil Neville backs Becks to return to England

Phil Neville insisted he never gave up hope of earning an England recall and believes out-of-favour David Beckham will have the same mentality.

Neville is in line to play his first competitive international since the Euro 2004 finals in the opening qualifier for the 2008 tournament, against Andorra at Old Trafford on Saturday.

It will be the first time the Everton player has tasted action for his country since the friendly international against Colombia in New York in May 2005.

But Neville was adamant he would never retire from international football and used the fact he was snubbed by former manager Sven-Goran Eriksson for the World Cup finals this summer as a driving force to take into the new domestic season.

And he believes Beckham, over-looked by Steve McClaren for his first two squads as head coach, will be in an equally determined frame of mind.

Neville said: 'I never thought my England career was over. Sometimes when you don't get selected for things, particularly at international level, you think `maybe the manager was right'.

'Then you just accept things but in the summer, when I wasn't selected for the World Cup finals, I didn't think the manager was right so that kept me going in a way.

'When I was called back from holiday for three weeks in the summer to join up with the squad, albeit on stand-by, that gave me a massive carrot in terms of knowing a new manager was coming in and I could still fight for my place.

'I still thought 'I am good enough to be in the squad'.'

Neville added: 'I think international football is totally different to club level. You can get left out at club level for a couple of weeks, maybe a year, and you can demand a move.

'At international level you've just got to keep fighting because you can't move to another country. You've just got to keep fighting and it is so special playing for this country that you've got to keep fighting.

'That is the case with me and I'm sure that's the case with David Beckham.

'For me I'll never retire from international football. The day I retire from football is the day I'm not available to play for England.'

Neville can sense a real mood of optimism in the England squad under McClaren but knows the acid test will come when the honeymoon period is over.

He said: 'There is a lot of optimism - and that comes when the new manager comes in. After the last game against Greece I went home and everyone was buzzing

'But when the new manager comes in at club or international level, there is always that kind of feeling.

'You always say to yourself that the real test is in six months time when you've gone through the mill, played in big qualifiers like the next two against Andorra and Macedonia.

'If that same optimism is there, then we are on the road to something special. At the moment everything seems to be going in the right direction.

'There is a lot of communication. The club atmosphere the manager is stressing to everyone is happening and there is a nice feeling around the entire squad.'

Neville believes McClaren's knack of being able to communicate with all his players is a major plus point.

He said: 'Steve McClaren's main quality is his communication. He doesn't leave a stone unturned and on and off the training field he wants feedback from the players.

'He wants to know about travel arrangements, about the kit you are wearing to the food you are eating. He wants to know what every player is thinking, not just the captain and the vice-captain and his communication is second to none.'