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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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By ESPN Staff

Beckham was free to Rome, insist Real Madrid

Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello has confirmed David Beckham's trip to Rome was sanctioned by the club - and that the former England captain had returned to training by yesterday morning.

Beckham travelled to Italy with wife Victoria on Friday to attend a pre-nuptial dinner with Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who married in nearby Bracciano yesterday.

It had initially been suggested the former England captain had defied Real in order to make the trip, while later reports declared the club had given him the green light to go.

Capello confirmed following last night's Primera Liga match with Racing Santander that Beckham had indeed been given permission to go to Italy.

The Italian coach also said the midfielder had been at the club's training ground yesterday morning to continue his recovery from the knee injury which ruled him out of the Racing match.

'Beckham was in Rome with the permission of the club,' said Capello. 'This morning he has been at Real Madrid City. We game him permission to travel, because the doctor said he could.

'He has not missed a single minute of his rehabilitation.'

Beckham did not attend last night's wedding ceremony between Cruise and Holmes, with his wife representing the couple in his absence.

Whether this whole episode will affect Beckham's future at Real Madrid remains to be seen.

He has yet to sign a new contract with Real - and with his current four-year deal running out next summer, he will be free to talk to other clubs in January.

Real are keen to tie the midfielder to a new deal. But it is believed Beckham is waiting to see if he can reclaim his first-team berth before deciding whether to commit himself to the Spanish giants.

The 31-year-old has made just two full appearances so far this season, and has already admitted his frustration at his lack of first-team opportunities.

Should he decide to bring his Spanish adventure to an end, there would appear to be no shortage of offers for the former Manchester United man - with teams from England, Scotland and America all being linked to him.