Eriksson lauds Beckham

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sven Goran Eriksson has marked out his tenure as England manager with his loyalty to his players, and he insisted yesterday that he will go on picking David Beckham, believing that his experience will be crucial should England qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

Sven Goran Eriksson has marked out his tenure as England manager with his loyalty to his players, and he insisted yesterday that he will go on picking David Beckham, believing that his experience will be crucial should England qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

The England captain's position in the national team has been called into question recently, particularly in the light of the excellent form of the Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, who offers a dynamic alternative down the right side.

But Eriksson is still a great advocate of Beckham, who has been his first-choice captain since he took over in 2001, and barring injury will be included in the squad for the friendly against the Netherlands at Villa Park on 9 February.

"Of course David is part of my plans," Eriksson said yesterday. "He's captain. He's playing regularly for Real Madrid and that's not bad. He's criticised when he's not the best man on the pitch, but he is our captain and he will be picked for sure."

The Swede added: "You have to pay attention. You can't go to the World Cup with a team that is too young. You need experience as well. Beckham is one of the oldest - he is 29 years old.

"You need those players. They have been there before and it's very important. But it's good that we have young players like Stewart Downing and Shaun Wright-Phillips knocking very hard. We should be very happy to have those talents in England."

Eriksson also hailed the "amazing" form of Beckham's Real Madrid team-mate Michael Owen, who has scored goals consistently for the Spanish side despite starting most matches on the bench.

"He's amazing. Every time he comes on he scores, and he's maybe the best goalscorer in Real Madrid now," Eriksson said. "It's a pity that he's not playing but I admire him. Every time he comes on he's important to the team."

Eriksson reiterated his desire to introduce a four-week break between the end of the 2005-06 domestic season and the start of next year's World Cup finals in Germany. "The experience we have from Japan and Portugal is that rest and preparation time is crucial and was one of the biggest reasons we didn't do better than the quarter-final," Eriksson warned. "We have tried to talk to everybody who is running football in this country and say that we need four weeks before the World Cup and I am confident they will support it."

Comments