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Becks axed from England squad

Beckham, just 6 matches away from 100 caps, has been shown the door. Beckham factfile | No hard feelings: Becks

india Updated: Aug 11, 2006 21:53 IST

David Beckham's international career could be over as the former England captain was left off new manager Steve McClaren's first squad named on Friday.


The Real Madrid midfielder was not named among the lineup to face Greece in an international friendly on August 16.

"I spoke with David last Monday and notified him of my decision," said McClaren, who also used the press conference to present his assistant manager Terry Venables.

"I told him I was looking to the future and said I was looking to change things, go in a different direction and he was not included."

McClaren added: "I have great respect for David. He was a fantastic captain for England, a great player, and still is a great player."

"He took the news very well, although he was disappointed. I got the reaction I wanted, and the reaction was he would continue to fight for his place, and I will never close the door on that."

Beckham is now perhaps unlikely to add further to his 94 caps, despite the 31-year-old's ambition to become the fifth England player to reach 100 caps.

McClaren stuck with his decision to ring in the changes from his predecessor Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Into the squad comes West Ham's highly-rated forward Dean Ashton, along with fellow strikers Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent, both controversially left out of the World Cup squad by Eriksson.

Michael Owen is injured while teenage striker Theo Walcott, taken to the World Cup by Eriksson despite having not played a single Premiership game for Arsenal, was already not in contention, having been named in the Under 21 squad earlier this week.

Another member of the old guard to fall was veteran goalkeeper David James, with youngsters Chris Kirkland and Ben Foster preferred as backup to Paul Robinson.

However, another old face, defender-cum-midfielder Phil Neville, earns a perhaps surprise recall.

It is however Beckham's omission that is the biggest sign McClaren plans to make his own stamp on the team.

The midfielder, who stepped down from his six-year tenure as captain following the World Cup, returned to club action for Real Madrid this week after suffering an Achilles injury during the World Cup quarter-final loss to Portugal.

He is injury free, meaning he has been dropped purely for footballing reasons.

It will be a bitter blow for Beckham, who has worked closely with McClaren before.

The new national boss was assistant manager at Manchester United when Beckham played there, as well as Eriksson's number two.

During the World Cup several football pundits called for Beckham to be dropped, despite his scoring one of England's goals and setting up others.

Beckham captained England 59 times, behind only Billy Wright and Bobby Moore (both 90) and Bryan Robson (65).

Caretaker boss Peter Taylor first made him skipper for a friendly in Italy in 2000 before Eriksson made the role permanent in 2001.

Some critics accused Eriksson of being too close to his captain, making Beckham almost impossible to drop, whatever his form.

One of the highlights of Beckham's England career was in a crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier when he scored a stunning last-minute free-kick to equalise with Greece and book England's spot in the World Cup.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Paul Robinson (Tottenham), Chris Kirkland (Wigan), Ben Foster (Watford)

Defenders: Gary Neville (Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Phil Neville (Everton), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), John Terry (Chelsea, CAPTAIN), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Luke Young (Charlton), Michael Dawson (Tottenham)

Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich/GER), Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), Kieron Richardson (Manchester United), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham)

Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Darren Bent (Charlton), Dean Ashton (West Ham)

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