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Jan 21, 2008

Beckham will win 100th cap, says McClaren

Former England manager Steve McClaren believes that David Beckham will win his 100th England cap but that his international career will suffer from playing his domestic football in Major League Soccer.

Beckham, who currently has 99 England caps, swapped Real Madrid for MLS side LA Galaxy in the summer of 2007 and the 32-year-old's future with the national team has been in doubt ever since his switch to a 'lower standard' league.

In an interview with ESPN McClaren, who himself dropped the Galaxy midfielder before recalling him once England's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign began to falter, said of Beckham's international future under new England boss Fabio Capello: 'It's going to be difficult.

'He's gone from the top, top team in Europe to basically America and MLS where it's really at the beginnings and nurturing and flourishing and coming through, but not of the standard of what he's used to. And definitely not of the standard of what international football requires.

'So it's going to be difficult, but David I know, prides himself on playing for England. We've seen that in the past, and he'll keep fit.

'He's working out with Arsenal already, and I believe that he will get his 100th cap. And then it's up to him, the work that he does, performances that he puts in is whether he'll get any more.'

McClaren was sacked in November 2007 after England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 but the former Middlesbrough manager still believes his time with England is the pinnacle of his career so far.

'It was an honour, and a proud day when I got the job, and it was the saddest day of my life when I lost it,' McClaren said.

'That's how big the job was to me. I had 18 months, a fantastic 18 months - but unfortunately we couldn't deliver what we set out to do and paid the consequences.'

Former Real Madrid and AC Milan coach Capello began his reign as England manager in January 2008 and McClaren believes the Italian can provide the perfect boost for the national team.

'I think Capello's coming into a fantastic situation where you know, the game is at its lowest. England is at lowest, hasn't qualified, the only way can be up,' McClaren said.

'We've got the players to do it, he's got the CV, the experience, and it's a great time to come in. No expectations, shouldn't be, and you know, the only is up for the players.'

Capello will announce his first England squad on January 31, for a friendly against Switzerland on February 6.

• See the full interview with Steve McClaren on SC Atlantic and ESPNSoccernet Press Pass this week, where he answers questions about his time as England manager.