Capello to find role in England camp for Beckham
FABIO CAPELLO has offered David Beckham a role as part of his backroom staff for the World Cup finals.
England's most capped outfield player is likely to be out of action for up to six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.
Beckham flew to Finland yesterday for an operation to repair the damage and last night orthopaedic surgeon Sakari Orava declared the 50-minute procedure a success amid suggestions from physiotherapists that the player's jet-set lifestyle -- criss-crossing the Atlantic -- may have made him vulnerable to such an injury.
"So far everything is fine," said the Finnish specialist. "The operation went smoothly and nicely."
However Dr Orava confirmed that 34-year-old Beckham had no chance of playing in the this summer's World Cup finals.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "Healing takes a long time. He had a total tear of the left Achilles tendon.
"It has been repaired, but it may be three months before he is able to walk properly again. It's only a guess, but it's four months to running and a couple more months to kicking and jumping."
Asked whether Beckham would play at the top level again, Professor Orava added: "It's difficult to say whether he will come back at the same level as before, but usually people can do what they have done before, if everything goes well."
Beckham's foot will be in a cast for six to eight weeks, after which he will undergo "vigorous" physiotherapy. He is understood to have been distraught by the injury, which occurred in the final minute of Milan's Serie A match against Chievo.
Milan defender Ignazio Abate said his team-mate was "inconsolable" and in tears as he realised that his dream of playing in a fourth World Cup finals was over -- particularly as he feels he has worked hard to revive his international career, which appeared to have ended after he was dropped by Capello's predecessor, Steve McClaren, before he was eventually recalled and then retained his place under the Italian.
AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said: "I saw him and he was suffering. In the dressing-room, I took him in my arms and told him that if he wanted, he will be with us next year."
Capello called Beckham late on Sunday night to commiserate with the former England captain, who he intended to include in his 23-man squad for South Africa.
The Italian told Beckham in their telephone conversation that, such was his importance to England, he would find a role for him to play with the squad if he wanted to stay involved.
So far that role is undefined -- part of Capello's motivation was to raise the player's crushed spirits -- but it is a sign of how highly he rates Beckham that he would have even considered making such a suggestion.
Whether Beckham would be offered a coaching role, an ambassadorial role or to act as a glorified cheerleader remains to be seen. It has not yet been thought through by Capello, although undoubtedly the English FA would be keen for Beckham to go to South Africa in any capacity, with England bidding to host the 2018 World Cup finals.
However, Capello's motivation is purely for the positive effect he believes it would have on the squad and on Beckham himself. Indeed, it is clear from the very fact that he called Beckham personally that the two men enjoy a strong rapport.
Capello, who coached Beckham at Real Madrid and brought him back into the side having initially frozen him out because of his impending move to LA Galaxy, said: "I spoke with him after the game on Sunday night to offer my support, as did (England general manager) Franco Baldini.
"David is a great professional and has worked very hard to be ready for the World Cup. Missing it will be a big blow."
Beckham issued a statement, thanking fans for their support and saying he was "upset" by the injury but hoped to make a "swift" recovery.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, who coached Beckham last season at AC Milan, added: "I'm so sorry for him because I know how he wanted to go to the World Cup. He came last year to Milan above all to achieve this, to show his quality for the England team."
The focus will now turn to Capello's alternatives for the right-sided slot in the England midfield.
Aaron Lennon's fitness continues to cause concern, given that the Tottenham winger has still not recovered from a groin injury he sustained last December. Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips are obvious options, while James Milner and Joe Cole are both capable of operating in that area of the pitch.
Adam Johnson is bound to come into the reckoning, too, after capping a sparkling few weeks at new club Manchester City by scoring a superb equaliser against Sunderland on Sunday.
Despite those options, Denis Irwin, a team-mate of Beckham's in the 1999 Champions League final, thinks Capello will struggle to find a replacement.
"It is a big blow for England," said Irwin. "I have never seen a better crosser of the ball and England will miss him on set-pieces.
"David would be the ideal man to come on with 25 minutes to go when you have someone like Peter Crouch up front. He would have been the perfect foil." (© Daily Telegraph, London)