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England Coach: Beckham Too Old to Play for Country

WEMBLEY, England -- After more than 100 games, three World Cups and years living as an international icon, David Beckham's England career may be over for good.

England coach Fabio Capello said Wednesday that the 35-year-old former captain, who has played 115 times for his country, is too old and will no longer be a part of his plans as he prepares for the 2012 European Championship qualifying campaign.

"I won't be picking him for any more competitive matches," Capello said after England beat Hungary 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley. "David is a fantastic player, he was really important, but we have to see the new players for the future because the age is important for a lot of people, not only for David."

Capello said Beckham, who trails only goalkeeper Peter Shilton's record of 125 England appearances, will have the chance to play in a friendly "farewell game."

"I hope he can play one more friendly game to say bye bye," Capello said.

Capello spoke while Beckham was in the United States training with the Los Angeles Galaxy for the first time in five months.

"Did I phone him before I went on television?" Capello said. "No. I think I will speak with him. We tried to speak with him. But I think David knows he has no future with the international team because we have to change. We tried to speak with him."

Beckham has repeatedly said he has no plans of retiring from playing for England. He went to the World Cup in South Africa in June as a member of Capello's off-field staff after being sidelined following Achilles' tendon surgery.

Speaking in Carson, California, before Capello's comments, Beckham had said: "I've always said that I won't retire from playing for my country, whether I never get picked again, play one more game or 10 more games. There are a lot of good young players coming through. We'll see."

The Galaxy said there would be no response Wednesday to Capello's comments, but Beckham's spokesman, Simon Oliveira, said the player isn't calling it quits.

"There has been no discussion of retirement," Oliveira said. "He will always be available for his country, when fit and if needed he will be there."

England captain Steven Gerrard said he expects Beckham to bounce back, just as he did after being dropped following the 2006 World Cup.

"I'm sure that if he hears that news, it'll drive him on and he'll try to prove people wrong and try to get back in the set-up because I know he loves playing for England," Gerrard said. "He's had some fantastic performances, some fantastic goals, memories. He was a fantastic captain. I've learned a lot from David and it's been a pleasure to play alongside him.

"If he has played his last game, he'll certainly be missed because, both on and off the pitch, he's a great guy."

Beckham missed out on a fourth World Cup after tearing an Achilles' tendon in March while on loan to AC Milan from the Galaxy to stay in shape for England during the Major League Soccer offseason. He resumed training Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Beckham didn't do any drills with the Galaxy but he participated in conditioning with training staff.

"The focus is on the team and preparing my tendon," Beckham said. "I've been hitting it so hard for the last two years, every month that it's obviously tough on my body. It's about getting back this season as soon as possible, playing the rest of the season and then taking the time to get the rest in, prepare my body and be ready for next season."

He is not expected to be fit for the Galaxy again until Sept. 4 in Chicago.

Beckham, who began his career at Manchester United in 1992, made his England debut against Moldova in September 1996.

The low point of his international career came at his first World Cup, in 1998, when he was sent off for petulantly kicking out at Argentina midfielder Diego Simeone. England lost the round of 16 match and some England fans hung effigies of Beckham.

Beckham managed to bounce back and captained the team at the 2002 World Cup under coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Beckham tearfully relinquished the England captaincy after the 2006 tournament, when England reached the quarterfinals for the second straight time. He was then dropped by coach Steve McClaren, but was restored as England's qualifying campaign for the 2008 European Championship faltered.

McClaren was fired in November 2008 after England failed to reach Euro 2008.

Despite initially falling out of favor under Capello before being restored to the team when both were at Real Madrid, Beckham's international career survived when the Italian took over as coach from McClaren.

Beckham often only appeared as a late substitute but played a role in 16 of the 21 matches under Capello before he was injured three months before the World Cup in South Africa.

Because of his influence in the camp, Beckham was taken to the World Cup in a non-playing role by Capello. He wasn't there in an official coaching role despite often appearing on the training field and at matches.