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Eriksson issues Beckham defence
Updated: 2005-03-30 09:33

Sven-Goran Eriksson has issued a staunch defence of England captain David Beckham.

England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson (L) watches David Beckham. Eriksson named an unchanged side to face Azerbaijan in Wednesday's European zone Group Six World Cup qualifying match. [AFP]

The Real Madrid midfielder has received widespread criticism for his recent performances in an England shirt despite his side standing on top of their World Cup qualifying group.

Indeed, many have suggested that the England skipper is in the side for commercial reasons rather than on merit.

However, England boss Eriksson has insisted that Beckham is included in the team for "footballing reasons" only.

Eriksson, who has named an unchanged side for the clash with Azerbaijan, said: "I think David Beckham is still an extremely good football player. He is very important for us.

"I feel embarrassed always when I have to talk about whether he should be in the squad, whether he should be in the team, whether he should be the captain.

"He is in the squad, he's in the team and he's the captain - and that's it.

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