Kevin Keegan today cast doubt on David Beckham's hopes of making another England comeback or even coping with a return to the Barclays Premier League.
Beckham was today still waiting to discover whether Los Angeles Galaxy would allow him to go to Europe on loan until the Major League Soccer season begins in March.
Tottenham are heavy favourites to land the former England captain if he is given the all-clear for a move he hopes will help him build up his match fitness and prolong his international career.
But former manager Keegan, who awarded Beckham 16 of his 115 caps more than a decade ago, believes the 35-year-old will struggle to impress if he returns to the Premier League.
"Playing for England again, playing back in the Premier League, that'd be a big ask, I think," Keegan told Press Association Sport at an event to promote ESPN's live coverage of this weekend's FA Cup third round games and the ESPNsoccernet 'Cup of Dreams' fan poll.
Keegan does believe, however, that Beckham has much to offer his country behind the scenes, despite the Football Association last night denying they were lining him up as a coach when Fabio Capello steps down as manager.
"Can he be a coach? Of course he can," Keegan said.
"He's a bright guy, he's worldly, he knows how to communicate with people, he's got vast experience.
"David Beckham can be anything he wants to be.
"If he wants to be a manager, that's fine."
Steve McManaman, who played alongide Beckham in the England side managed by Keegan as well as briefly being his team-mate at Real Madrid, believes the midfielder could still break back into Capello's plans.
"If he comes to England and he performs fantastically well and he influences games like he can do, I think it'll only be a positive," McManaman said.
"We'll wait and see whether he does come and ply his trade back in the Premier League."
Indeed, McManaman doubts whether a loan move to Spurs will actually happen.
"I think (Tottenham manager) Harry Redknapp said exactly the right thing yesterday. It's a loan deal within a loan deal, which is the problem for a lot of Premier League clubs.
"I think teams who are struggling now or teams who want him, they can't have him until the end of the season, which is a pity.
"They can only have him for an eight-week loan deal, and that's the sticking point.
"That's going to be difficult to overcome.
"I know certain clubs would do that but I think with the bigger clubs, it's going to be hard for them.
"I think David wanted to get his fitness levels up, certainly, after his injury - which was a terrible injury - last year, and he needs to play as much as possible.
"If he can do that, great. Whether anybody will take a punt on him, I think is another thing."