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Bentley out to get Beckham

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 26 May 2008

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David Bentley has warned David Beckham he is determined to end his England career.

The Blackburn Rovers winger will go head-to-head with Beckham for a place in manager Fabio Capello's midfield for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in September.

Both players will be granted chances to stake their claim in England's end-of-season friendlies against the United States at Wembley on Wednesday and Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain on Sunday.

Bentley, 23, has age on his side – Beckham is 10 years older – and is also better placed to impress Capello since the ex-Manchester United star's departure for Major League Soccer.

But Bentley is taking nothing for granted and insists only consistently impressive performances will ensure he becomes Beckham's long-term successor.

He said: “David's loved by everyone, isn't he? I admire him as well, of course, and the world loves him.

“He's great as a man and a player and he will be difficult to get past him because he's got everything. But I'll be trying my hardest to do just that.

“David has reached incredibly high levels throughout his career and I really respect him for that but I am still here to take his place. That's one of the reasons that these are big games for me – I have to perform in them.

“For someone like me, just starting out in my international career, I have a lot to prove. Every time I go out on the pitch at this stage I have something to prove to the media, the fans and the manager, especially in games like this.

“There's no point in me just talking a good game, I have to do it on the pitch and find a little bit more within me.”

Bentley is steadily winning over the England fans who jeered him during his first appearance for the national side after the former Arsenal trainee's decision not to travel to the European under-21 championships last summer.

The winger cited “tiredness” for his refusal to travel to Holland and he was left out of the full England squad for a friendly against Germany at Wembley last August.

But his impressive form for Rovers last season – he scored nine goals in helping the club finish seventh in the Premier League – has helped win over the doubters and Bentley believes he will blossom under the tough love regime of Capello.

“You make decisions in life and I made that one (about the under-21 tournament) – I stick by it but it's in the past now,” he added. “It's been great to be involved.

“To play for England is fantastic and there's no better feeling than having the new gaffer put you in his side for his first few games.

“Mr Capello has been great. You come here to work hard and to develop your game. He wants people to get as much out of every training session as they can and not just go through the motions, which is at it should be.

“It's enjoyable and it should breed success for the future, I hope.”

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