Beckham spurns offer of England 'farewell match' at Wembley

Former captain vows to regain place on merit after Capello's diplomatic blunder
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The Independent Football

Fabio Capello's chaotic announcement that he was ending David Beckham's international career hit further problems yesterday when the former England captain made it quite clear through his representatives that he did not want a "farewell" game at Wembley.

Capello made the informal offer to Beckham after the Hungary game on Wednesday as it became clear that he had jumped the gun on announcing the end of Beckham's 115-cap, 14-year international career. However, that just created more problems when Beckham announced that he had no intention of agreeing to being retired by Capello.

Sources close to the 35-year-old said yesterday that if the Football Association announced that Beckham was to be called into the squad specifically for a farewell game he would resist. There will be an announcement this week that England will play a friendly against France on 17 November, but there will be no attempts by the governing body to market it as the "Beckham farewell".

Instead the FA is hoping that Capello's off-the-cuff announcement about Beckham – which was an attempt to be diplomatic about the player – will quietly be forgotten. Capello has now realised that his casual remark in a pre-recorded ITV interview broadcast before the match has caused unnecessary problems that were only exacerbated by the offer of a farewell game.

Beckham has been told by specialists that he should be fit to play by the start of October after rupturing his Achilles tendon. The player thinks that he can return before that. Either way, it is unlikely that Beckham will be released by Los Angeles Galaxy for the November game against France because it clashes with potential play-off games in the MLS Season.

On Wednesday night, Capello ruled out the possibility that Beckham could fulfil the role of the yet to be selected English coach whom the FA wants its Italian manager to bring into his staff and groom as a possible successor. Beckham was part of the England staff during the World Cup this summer.

Capello said: "This is not a question for me. For me he is a fantastic man and a fantastic player. The relationship with him is really good. No [Beckham will not come back]. I change everything and we are going forward. You need young players and talented players. I think the players that played [against Hungary] are young and they have talent."

The England manager has had a difficult five days and those close to him admit that it is his less than perfect grasp of English that lets him down when he tackles difficult issues. Nevertheless, the Capello camp were bullish yesterday about the 64-year-old's future and believe that, despite the difficult time he endured at Wembley, he is determined to see the job through.

After two international retirements from his squad, the Beckham fiasco and a narrow 2-1 win over Hungary, it did look on Wednesday night as if the Capello regime was finally coming apart. The England manager did not emerge once from his dugout during the game. However, the word from Capello yesterday was that he was encouraged by the new players in the squad and is prepared to see out the difficult times ahead.

The England manager concedes in private that it might well take progress at the Euro 2012 tournament in two years' time before he can expect faith to be restored in his regime after the disappointment of the World Cup finals. He fully expected a difficult time at Wembley. However, he believes the likes of Bobby Zamora and Kieran Gibbs are now ready for international football.

Capello has still not explained why Peter Crouch, by far his most effective goalscorer in terms of the ratio of minutes on the pitch to goals, and Joe Cole are now out of his plans. After the match on Wednesday he gave some vague assurances that he would bring them in as replacements but there were no promises to recall them for the Euro 2012 qualifying games against Switzerland and Bulgaria next month.

Asked how long it would take others to establish themselves, he said: "It depends on the talent. With some players it is immediately. Adam Johnson is one of those talents. Gibbs is probably another. This is the future of England.

"Some guys will be with us absolutely. I have to wait to see whether players will be fit or not. They are one part of the group. You can't just say it [the pool of English players] is this 23. You need more than that. In my mind there are about 28. I will choose from these."