McClaren says Beckham closer to an England recall

February 21, 2007

LONDON -- David Beckham's recent performances for Real Madrid have improved his chances of a recall to the England team.

The former captain was dropped by England coach Steve McClaren after last year's World Cup. However, he has played well since being recalled to the Madrid team and set up all three goals in Tuesday's 3-2 Champions League victory over Bayern Munich.

"That's all you'll get from David Beckham. The reaction from every adversity he's ever gone through in his career, he's always bounced back and been professional and got on with his job," McClaren said Wednesday.

"A month ago, he would never play for Real Madrid again and there he is starring in a game against Bayern Munich and being man of the match."

McClaren wouldn't be the first coach to change his mind over Beckham.

Madrid coach Fabio Capello said last month that Beckham would never again play for the Spanish powerhouse. Beckham annoyed Capello by announcing on Jan. 11 that he would leave for the Los Angeles Galaxy when his contract expires in June.

Madrid had offered the midfielder a two-year extension.

After seeing Beckham train, Capello relented and Beckham has now played three straight games.

"It gives me a problem, one of the problems that you welcome, players putting pressure and performing well at the clubs," McClaren said. "Obviously that's a problem I'd rather have than not have."

The England coach suggested that Beckham would have to maintain his form to stand any chance of getting back on the team for next month's European Championship qualifiers against Israel and Andorra.

"It's four weeks before the squad will be announced, so we will see what happens within the four weeks," he said.

Unfortunately for Beckham, McClaren wasn't at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to see his standout performance on Tuesday.

The England coach had planned to go to the game because he is in Spain to look at Espanyol's Olympic stadium in Barcelona where England will face Andorra on March 24. He decided not to go the game because England midfielder Owen Hargreaves was not certain to play.

However, Hargreaves did play in the game and was involved in several midfield challenges on Beckham.

McClaren wants to go to Munich to watch the return March 7.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press