Beckham seems bound for bench

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The Independent Online

Fabio Capello insists that David Beckham remains a valuable part of his Real Madrid squad, even though the former England captain has seen only a limited amount of action this season.

Beckham, who is in discussions about a new contract at the Bernabeu, made his first start for Real in five games last weekend when he was included in the side to face Getafe. However, after Real were defeated 1-0, ending their unbeaten start to the league season, Beckham found himself back on the bench for the Champions' League match against Steaua Bucharest during the week.

Real won that match 4-1, and it seems unlikely that Capello will make many changes for today's encounter with the defending champions, Barcelona. That would probably mean Beckham again having to make do with life as a substitute as Real attempt to close a five-point gap with Barça at the top of La Liga.

However, Capello is adamant that Beckham, who been suffering with slight tendon trouble in his left knee, has a role to play at Real, and says the midfield player will get his chance, citing the recent promotions of Ivan Helguera and Robinho to the starting line-up.

"I have 20 players who can start. For three weeks Helguera did not start, Robinho the same. I watch much of the training and Beckham trains very well, but for now I have other ideas," Capello said. "But he works to be a starter and he will be. He forms part of my plans, and for that reason I asked for his contract to be renewed."

Another midfielder, Guti, has recovered from a swollen left ankle, but the striker Ronaldo is suspended and the full-backs Michel Salgado and Cicinho are injured.

Capello's opposite number, Frank Rijkaard, has omitted the left-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst and the forward Santi Ezquerro from his Barcelona squad. The striker Samuel Eto'o, a long-term absentee, and right-back Juliano Belletti are out.

Bayern Munich slipped to fourth place in the Bundesliga after a 3-1 defeat away to the leaders, Werder Bremen, who are in Chelsea's Champions' League group.

Diego put Werder ahead after 11 minutes at the Weser Stadium and Pierre Womé made it 2-0 with a free-kick 10 minutes before the break. Roy Makaay, who was deployed in a three-man attack, brought Bayern back into the game three minutes later, but an own goal by Lucio in the 63rd minute sealed the points for Werder.

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