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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 11, 2008

The end is near for Beckham, says Barnes

Theo Walcott's super show against Croatia on Wednesday night shows it is time for Fabio Capello to call time on the David Beckham era, according to former Three Lions winger John Barnes.

The Arsenal teenager stunned the hosts in Zagreb with a clinical hat-trick and an all-round performance which suggested he will be a fixture in Capello's side for many years to come.

Walcott's selection as a right-sided attacker for the World Cup qualifier was controversial given that it came effectively at the expense of former captain Beckham.

The 19-year-old's devastating pace added a thrilling verve to England's play on the right flank, however - something frequently lacking when the less-mobile Beckham is selected.

And with Shaun Wright-Phillips showing early promise following his return to Manchester City and David Bentley a rising star with Tottenham, Barnes believes it is time for England to dispense with Beckham once and for all.

"If you look at what David Bentley's done, and Shaun Wright-Phillips is coming back into form, the right-hand side looks very good," Barnes told the BBC.

"David (Beckham), from the point of view of a dead-ball specialist, is fine, but if you look at the last 10 years, that hasn't worked, so why's it going to work now?

"It was a brave move (selecting Walcott) but we do have to look for other things. It gives us an extra dimension because we've got lots of pace, and defenders hate pace, so it's fantastic.

"Shaun Wright-Phillips is someone who can do that as well. So the future looks good."

Barnes has also called for calm in the handling of Walcott, who first hit the headlines when he was controversially selected by Sven-Goran Eriksson for the 2006 World Cup squad.

In the end he did not feature at all in that tournament and has made slow progress since - something Barnes attributes to too much pressure being heaped upon him too early in his career.

"He's a great player but let's not get carried away and put too much pressure on him," Barnes said.

"The last time we did this, when he got selected for the World Cup, his career halted for 18 months to two years.

"Let's allow him to develop, he's developing nicely and is a good player, but let's not get carried away and do what we did after the World Cup."

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