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May 27, 2007

Lalas warning over Beckham England recall

David Beckham's England recall could put him on a collision course with Los Angeles Galaxy if he remains part of Steve McClaren's set-up this year.

England have four crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers during September and October and that would put Beckham out of domestic action for the Major League Soccer outfit, for whom he has signed a five-year £125million deal.

McClaren axed the Real Madrid midfielder after replacing Sven-Goran Eriksson as England coach but he has made a dramatic U-turn and recalled Beckham for the friendly against Brazil on June 1 and the Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia.

Galaxy have sold thousands of season tickets on the back of his arrival, but Beckham's surprise recall could mean he could be on duty for England against Israel, Russia twice and Estonia instead of playing in the MLS.

Galaxy general manager Alexei Lalas admits they are concerned over Beckham's international situation from a business point of view, and hinted he may not be released for any non-competitive games.

Lalas, speaking on BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek programme, said: 'From a business perspective it is not the greatest news because we are selling the team with David Beckham and a lot of people are excited to see him play with the Galaxy.

'We will deal with it from a business perspective, but for us to say one of our players is representing England internationally is a great thing.

'There are business challenges but there is an educated public here when it comes to this international game we play. We recognise that when we are going out and getting these stars, they have responsibilities domestically and internationally.

'It is no different than when our American players are called up to play in different tournaments. We lose them at different times and we deal with it on the field and off it.

'I don't want to stand in the way of a player representing his country but we have to be prudent and understand they have to be the appropriate games. I would think they would have to be competitive matches.

'If it works out scheduling wise, we would be happy to let him go. But he has a responsibility on and off the field to our organisation and to our support. I think he is excited about pursuing that responsibility.'

The Galaxy chief added: 'He recognises that responsibility to the Galaxy and to the sport in the United States. I represented my country and I know what it means. It is something above money, it is something you take with you forever.

'I would never stand in the way of a player doing that as long as it is reasonable and they understand they have responsibilities to the club.

'But we have a responsibility to make sure David's health is looked after. This is a hell of a trip he is going to be taking by coming to the United States and it can take its toll.

'We know when we have players playing in England and they have to come back here for games, it is a very difficult proposition. I think he is up to it to a certain extent, but we will sit down and talk to him.

'Having said that there is a bigger picture and I would never stand in the way of any of our players representing their country.

'When you sit down and talk to David, his time representing England and his time as captain was something he holds dear.'

Lalas also believes Beckham's decision to quit Madrid when his contract ends on June 30 and move to the MLS should not have a bearing on future call-ups as he insists the player's fitness levels will remain high.

But he is realistic enough to understand that the 32-year-old Beckham is probably in a no-win situation by playing in a league that many others regard as being inferior to the rest of the world.

Lalas added: 'I don't think fitness is a problem. I would argue it is much more physically taxing than other leagues. We understand we are still a developing league but I refuse to think a player cannot come to Major League Soccer and develop as well, if not better, than in other leagues in the world.

'If he is lucky enough to be called up while he is playing with the Galaxy, I believe England will be getting a player who is physically and mentally fit and going through a unique experience that is ultimately going to make him a better player.

'But he probably can't win either way. If misses a cross or doesn't score a goal people will say it's because he is playing in America for the Galaxy. If he does do well people will say it is because he is a brilliant player and it doesn't matter where he is playing.'

Galaxy coach Frank Yallop has insisted Beckham will not return to a European club on loan later this year.

Reports have suggested Beckham could return to the Premiership in November following the conclusion of the MLS season.

Everton, Tottenham and Blackburn have been linked with a move, while Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce has already expressed an interest.

Yallop told Sky Sports News: 'He won't be going on loan anywhere. He'll be taking a break at that point and getting ready for our pre-season.

'He's shown he's a world-class player, he doesn't need to go back and go on loan anywhere.'

Yallop believes Beckham`s performances will make it difficult for McClaren to drop him again.

'I think David is going to have such an impact when he joins the squad again it will be difficult to leave him out to be honest,' he said.

'We realise David wants to get to the 100-cap plateau and we will never stop him doing that.'

Madrid coach Fabio Capello again praised Beckham's recent form after he helped keep the Spanish giants on course for their 30th Primera Liga title.

Beckham played a pivotal role as Madrid beat Deportivo La Coruna 3-1 at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

Capello said: 'I said (on Friday) that David Beckham was playing better than he has over the last two years.

'He is in extraordinary physical condition. When he puts the ball into the centre he does it with much precision, speed and quality. He is in great shape.'