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By ESPN Staff

Capello: Beckham is here to stay for England

Fabio Capello insists David Beckham has a key role to play for the foreseeable future with England even if he is restricted to only cameo roles for the rest of his international career.

Beckham has overtaken Sir Bobby Charlton and moved to within one appearance of the 108-cap tally achieved by World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore.

The 33-year-old made late substitute appearances against Kazakhstan and Belarus in England's last two World Cup qualifiers.

There has been criticism in some quarters that the Los Angeles Galaxy star is picking up 'cheap' caps for his country after failing to start any of the four competitive games during the current campaign.

But Capello is adamant Beckham's inclusion in his squad is justified as much for his off-the-field influence as the contribution he makes on the pitch.

And the Italian hinted Beckham could start the friendly international against Germany in Berlin next month, although he may not select him for the possible February match with Spain as it will be the close season for Galaxy.

There was a similar scenario last February when Beckham was not included in Capello's plans for the opening game of his reign against Switzerland at Wembley.

Capello said: ``For the next game, it is possible, Beckham will play, I don't know. For the game against Spain, if he is not playing, he will not be in the squad.

``But, when I decide the squad, it is not for the few minutes that David Beckham plays. He is good for the group. This is important. In fact, this is very important - his influence.

``He knows everything. He transmits confidence in the other players. This is very important for the group.

``I have to choose the first XI and at the moment I choose Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips who are playing well.

``Beckham might have played five minutes against Belarus but, for the next game, it is possible he might play all the game. I have to decide the best 11.''

As regards criticism over the way Beckham was adding to his caps tally, Capello is clearly unconcerned.

He said: ``I don't know how many caps he has. For me, it is not interesting to record everything. It is not in my mind. My mind is the victory, the game, the best 11. I don't think about it.

``Does Beckham deserve to be in the company of Charlton and Moore? I don't know. I don't know how many games they played.''

Capello has been pleased to work with his squad for two blocks of 10 days during the past month via back-to-back qualifiers with Andorra and Croatia and now Kazakhstan and Belarus.

But he is unsure whether England will have the same energy and superior fitness levels when they resume their qualifying campaign against the Ukraine on April 1.

He said: ``It is frustrating to now have six months without a competitive game but we knew this. We have been lucky because we have played two games twice. Some have only played three matches.

``We have to wait a lot now. At the moment we are in very good physical condition because we always play better in the second half of games because the other teams play strong and press a lot.

``In the last 20 minutes, they are competed out and we are strong. Whether we will be the same physical condition in April, I don't know.''

Despite England's flying start to their group, which has yielded a maximum 12 points and 13 goals, Capello believes there is still room for improvement.

He said: ``I am still looking for improvement. There are areas we can still improve on.

``We have good players. Now we have confidence. But we have to play every game like the final. I have said this to the players.''


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