Capello: Beckham is in on merit

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Fabio Capello insists David Beckham is in the England squad on merit not out of sympathy for the former Three Lions skipper.

Beckham will earn a place in the history books if he plays some part in Wednesday night's friendly with Spain in Seville. The appearance would allow him to pick up his 108th cap and equal Bobby Moore's record for an outfield player.

The accolade has irritated some of Beckham's fiercest critics, who feel the 33-year-old is not fit to lace Moore's boots, but Capello said: "I choose players in the best form. When I picked a squad last February Beckham was not in it because he was not playing."

He added: "Now he is here, But that is solely because he is a good player. He is not here for sympathy. I would never pick a player for those reasons."

Capello has flatly refused to discuss the thorny issue of racism and will only break his silence should trouble occur at a game that, following the prompting of FA officials, is being played away from Spain's traditional home at the Bernabeu Stadium.

But he is not expecting trouble and, after two spells as Real Madrid manager, has no difficulty in stressing his belief that Spain does not have a problem with racism.

Of more concern to Capello is his team selection. James Milner and Carlton Cole are two of the more interesting options available to the England coach on Wednesday.

It is likely Cole will start only if Emile Heskey fails to overcome an ankle problem that prevented him from training on Monday but had eased sufficiently for the Aston Villa striker to be put through his paces at the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Tuesday evening.

Frank Lampard has an obvious claim on a midfield spot but after their performances in Germany last November, so do Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry.

England's win in Berlin that night established them as a contender for South Africa 2010, but Capello knows there is still plenty of work ahead before his side can really start punching their weight at international level.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Carlton Cole
James Milner
David Beckham
League One
Gareth Barry
Emile Heskey
Michael Carrick
Aston Villa
Bobby Moore

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