Pearce to stay but Beckham sweats on international future

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The Independent Online

Fabio Capello wants Stuart Pearce's British bulldog qualities by his side for the foreseeable future but is less sure about David Beckham's more cosmopolitan ones. That was the gist of the England manager's last Christmas message from Soho Square before the Football Association move to Wembley sometime next year.

Pearce's contract will be up next summer after he has led the England Under-21 squad into a second successive European Championship. Losing their semi-final in an epic penalty shoot-out against the eventual tournament winners, Holland, was the side's only defeat in his 22 matches as manager, so they will be among the favourites in June despite being drawn with Spain, Germany and Finland. Since Capello's arrival, Pearce has also worked with the senior team, providing a useful bridge to the Under-21 players as well as a – very – English voice in the dressing room.

"I hope Stuart will stay with us," Capello said. "I'm very happy with him. He's a fantastic coach and fantastic colleague. And I hope he'll be with us for next season."

The same could yet apply to Beckham, who has shown a strong disinclination to be written off as quickly as his critics would like. He started only one international this season – the first, against the Czech Republic – but popped up as a late substitute in the next four, taking his caps to 107, just one behind Bobby Moore's outfield record.

To stay in contention for England's first two friendlies in the new year, Beckham last night officially joined Milan from LA Galaxy on loan. He is making the move to stay fit during the US close season and to try to keep his place in the national team. "I needed to be able to be playing top-flight football to keep myself fit, to keep myself in contention," Beckham said. The first game he could play for Milan is away to Roma on 11 January.

Capello denies that he has handed Beckham any "sympathy" caps and insists that future appearances will be determined solely by his form, not with an eye on the history books.

"I put him in the squad when he played, and if he plays similar [in Milan] it's possible he will be in the squad," he said. "If he's in the squad it's because he's in good form, not to help him arrive at the record. It's important for Beckham, not me."

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