Beckham left on bench by Madrid

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The Independent Football

David Beckham was left out of the starting line-up by his new coach Fabio Capello in Real Madrid's final warm-up match in the States on Saturday night. It was a better day for his former Manchester United team-mate Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was on target as Real beat Real Salt Lake 2-0.

Beckham and Robinho were among five players introduced by Capello at half-time but his demotion to the bench is not a good omen for the midfielder in the week that he was left out of Steve McClaren's first England squad.

Van Nistelrooy, a £10.3m signing from United last month, opened the scoring just before the break with a penalty, awarded when Willis Forko tripped Antonio Cassano.

Robinho almost made an immediate impact in the second half, seeing a shot well saved by the Salt Lake keeper Jay Nolly. The match turned ugly after 58 minutes when Atiba Harris was sent off for a reckless lunge on the Spain international Sergio Ramos. A mêlée involving several players ensued and when the dust had settled, Harris was shown a red card. Robinho then doubled Madrid's lead seven minutes later, taking Van Nistelrooy's pass in his stride before slotting the pall past Nolly.

McClaren's decision to drop Beckham does not mean the end of the former captain's international career, the new England manager made clear yesterday. "It's not the England manager's decision to end anyone's international career," McClaren said.

McClaren left Beckham out of his squad to face Greece in the friendly at Old Trafford on Wednesday and said he was looking to build a team for the future, which was why the 31-year-old was not included.

"While David says he has the passion to play for England, I have to respect that and I will monitor the situation in Madrid. I will never say never," McClaren said.

Beckham has played 94 times for England and was captain for 58 of those games. His last appearance was in the World Cup quarter-final against Portugal when he limped off with ankle and achilles tendon injuries and watched England lose on penalties.

McClaren's decision to leave Beckham out of the game against Greece is seen as an attempt to move the team in a new direction after a poor performance at the World Cup.

Although McClaren was Eriksson's assistant in Germany, he says he is not afraid to make bold decisions now that he is in charge. He has also appointed the former England coach Terry Venables as his assistant and handed the captain's armband to Chelsea's John Terry.

"I would not say it was the hardest decision I've made [to drop Beckham]," McClaren said. "It would have been hard if I didn't have the relationship I've got with him and if I didn't have the respect I have for him. It was a big decision but one I had to make for the future."

Meanwhile, Real may offer Ronaldo to Milan in exchange for Kaka, according to Spanish reports. Milan are reportedly keen to bolster their attack by signing Ronaldo to replace Andrei Shevchenko, who left for Chelsea in May. And Madrid could take advantage by using the Brazil striker as a bargaining tool to acquire his compatriot Kaka, whose arrival was a pre-electoral pledge of the club's new president, Ramon Calderon.

Ronaldo has two years left on his contract but is believed to be unsettled. Last season, he threatened to leave Madrid due to continuing criticism from the club's supporters.

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