Beckham emphasises work-rate despite a limited role at Real

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The Independent Football

Left out by Steve McClaren again and after playing only his second full 90 minutes of the season for Real Madrid this week, David Beckham is not letting a lack of games eat away at his confidence. "Mentally and physically I'm very strong," the former England captain said. "I may be 31 but I was pleased with my performance in midweek not just because we won and I scored but because physically I felt the best I have for a while.

"I could still play every game. If I was to play in every match this season I would be happy. I would cope with that no problem. I need matches to get confidence and fitness but I've kept my fitness by working hard in training and doing extra gym work. In the evening my wife goes to the gym and I do a bit extra while she is working out."

Beckham was full of running as he inspired Real Madrid to their 5-1 Cup win over Ecija, but cannot be sure of starting against Osasuna tomorrow in La Liga. Brazil's striker Ronaldo will miss out after injuring knee ligaments against Ecija.

Barcelona's erratic form has left them trailing Seville at the top, and tomorrow the defending champions entertain Zaragoza looking for a win that could lift them back into first place. But Zaragoza have risen to third after winning four games on the trot, scoring eight goals and Diego Milito shares is joint top of the scoring charts with Seville's Frédéric Kanouté.

In Italy, Roma face a test of their title credentials when they play Milan at San Siro today, hoping to create further misery for Carlo Ancelotti's struggling side. Three straight defeats have left Milan, who began the season with an eight-point penalty because of their part in the match-fixing scandal, in 15th place. Roma are four points off the top two, Internazionale and Palermo. Ancelotti's problems increased this week when the midfielder Gennaro Gattuso and defender Giuseppe Favalli were both ruled out until January with injuries.

Inter are away to Parma tomorrow while Palermo will expect to continue their impressive season at home to lowly Torino.

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