All this talk about dropping David Beckham is getting silly. We have a tendency in this country to get a little bit confused about these issues.
Aaron Lennon was impressive last week but saying he should replace Beckham in the side off the back of one performance is absurd.
There are very few players who can cope with the special pressures of playing at a World Cup, where millions of eyes are focused on your every move. Beckham is one of those players.
| David Beckham
The press are always looking to have a pop at Becks but it only takes a little common sense to realise how foolish that is. He has played in two World Cups, has 87 caps and is the national team captain. He has been in terrific form for Real Madrid and if he is fit, he plays. Simple as that.
I have had my reasons for criticising Sven-Goran Eriksson in the past but one thing that he certainly cannot be faulted on is his loyalty to the players. Some think he is overly loyal to the big names in his squad but I think he is right to stand by his players.
These players are big names for a reason. I think people don’t quite understand how difficult it is to perform at a World Cup, at the very highest level. Frankly, not many can do it. So the last thing you want to do is bomb out your best players if they have a couple of poor games.
In Beckham’s case I think at the last World Cup he wasn’t fit, but Sven played him despite that because, to be honest, our squad was quite sparse. There was no alternative. Now we have alternatives to come in if someone is struggling with fitness ' but only if that is the case. All the rest is just easy talk.
All this does not mean that I wasn’t as excited as everyone else to watch Lennon tear three different Belarus full-backs apart on Thursday. The kid’s got a future. He is at the top of his form and he strikes me as an obvious choice to change things as a substitute. You could see him livening things up when things are going stale, taking on players and causing problems with his pace.
It is interesting that Eriksson is considering him as a second striker but it is a bit absurd to be talking about hypothetical substitutions. The news about Wayne Rooney was pretty much as expected ' the boy’s got a broken bone in his foot! It takes time to heal and it is hard to believe he will play any part. He’s not going to train until that second scan on June 14 and by the time he’s got past the gentle stuff we’ll be at the semi-final stage.
You can understand Eriksson giving him the benefit of the doubt ' he’s such an important player ' but I can’t understand the lack of cover. With Michael Owen returning from injury, our only two orthodox, fully match-fit strikers will be Peter Crouch and a young kid. It seems a real gamble not to have taken an extra back-up striker.
As I wrote in this column last week, I think the one player who can compare to Rooney is Stevie Gerrard. I would like to see Eriksson play Gerrard as support striker for Owen against either Hungary or Jamaica this week.