Capello monitors Beckham's fitness fight

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The Independent Online

Fabio Capello has dropped his first hint that David Beckham will be in his first England squad by asking his staff to contact Arsenal to find out about the midfielder's fitness levels. Beckham has been training with Arsène Wenger's squad this month to get in shape during Los Angeles Galaxy's close season.

The contact was made by Capello's fitness coach Massimo Neri who also worked under Capello and with Beckham in the 32-year-old's final season at Real Madrid last year. Neri has spoken to the Arsenal fitness coach Tony Colbert to get an idea of the state of Beckham's fitness ahead of Capello's first England squad announcement which is expected to come next Friday.

The new England manager has given away little about what he plans to do for the first friendly against Switzerland on 6 February and has not spoken to any players on an individual basis – not even captain John Terry. While he has been able to watch most of them in action for their clubs, Beckham's LA Galaxy team's Major League Soccer season does not start until March. He has not played competitively since October.

For that reason, the player's representatives asked Wenger, with whom Beckham has a good relationship, if the midfielder could train at Arsenal where he has now been working for more than three weeks on his own and with the squad. Beckham's fitness programme has been tailored to his needs by Colbert who has been at Arsenal for almost 10 years.

Neri has been monitoring the fitness of all the potential players in Capello's first squad and building connections with fitness coaches at all Premier League clubs. Fitness levels, and the monitoring of players, will play a significant part in the new Capello regime. So often a factor that is regarded beyond the control of international managers, it was attention to players' individual fitness – on and off international duty – that was so integral to Jurgen Klinsmann's Germany team reaching the World Cup semi-finals in 2006.

Capello is going to see Aston Villa play Blackburn today to cast his eye on Rovers midfielder David Bentley. Steve McClaren's custom, as well as that of his predecessor Sven Goran Eriksson, was to name the England squad on the Friday before the weekend that preceded a midweek international. If that is still the case then there are six days to go before Capello's next squad with the new England manager also expected to be at Old Trafford tomorrow to see Manchester United and Tottenham. He has still not yet given any indication whether Terry will continue as captain.

The Football Association announced yesterday that England will play a friendly against Germany in Berlin on 19 November. By then Capello will have played his first four World Cup qualifiers and will have overseen five friendly matches. It will be the first time England have played away against Germany since the 5-1 victory over them in Munich on 1 September 2001. Capello said: "This should be a great match. I'm delighted this fixture has been arranged."

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