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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 9, 2008

Capello hints at Beckham return against France

Fabio Capello insists that David Beckham may be fit enough to be picked for England's next match - even though the midfielder will still not have played a competitive fixture.

Beckham was left out of Capello's first England squad last week on the grounds that he was not match fit, having not been involved in a competitive game since November.

The 32-year-old has returned to pre-season training with the Los Angeles Galaxy but the Major League Soccer season does not kick off until March 29, three days after England's friendly against France in Paris.

However, Capello insists the five pre-season friendlies that the Galaxy have lined up beforehand may be enough for the 32-year-old to reclaim his place in the squad.

Capello said: 'Surely he will have played friendly matches and those will be important. If he is fit and ready to play then he will be part of my team.'

The Italian, though, is clearly getting frustrated by the constant attention given to Beckham and if and when he will win his 100th cap.

Capello added: 'It seems that the most important thing is whether I choose David Beckham. I think we should focus on England.'

David Bentley played in Beckham's usual position on the right of midfield for the first half of England's 2-1 win over Switzerland on Wednesday, but Capello was more impressed when the Blackburn player moved inside when Shaun Wright-Phillips came on as a substitute.

That could make it easier for Capello to accommodate Beckham in his next squad.

The England manager added: 'I had seen Bentley play on the right and I wanted to see him in the middle. I want to be clear where players perform best.

'I believe Bentley did very well but in the second half he was particularly good.'

Meanwhile, Capello said he wanted the England team to develop the same sort of 'fighting' attitude as Wayne Rooney.

Capello said: 'I have watched three or four of Manchester United's matches recently and he was always like that.

'This is the spirit I want the team to pick up from him - always fighting and having this sort of spirit is something I want him to transmit to the rest of the team. This attitude is very important.'

Capello's No 2 Franco Baldini said after the Switzerland match that some England players lacked the necessary technical expertise but Capello insisted it is more a case of translating their club form to the international stage.

He added: 'I have been surprised about the skills some English players have and the qualities they sometimes show. But they show them more when they play for their club and have less pressure on them and that is something we need to look at.

'We have very good quality players in our team.'

In relation to Michael Owen, who did not feature at all against Switzerland, Capello reiterated that no-one should expect a guaranteed place.

He said: 'Some players are particularly valuable for the team but I will try to field the best team we have to do the job. There are no guaranteed places.

'I know Owen very well. I have seen him play many times and there is always room for important players.

'I have five friendlies before the qualifying campaign starts and by then I need to know who I want to play.'

Asked about the possibility that some fans might think his decision to leave out Owen was harsh, Capello replied: 'It's a free country and everyone can think what they like, all I think about is the team.'