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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 23:34 GMT
Gullit backs Beckham for England
By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport correspondent in Los Angeles

David Beckham and Ruud Gullit
Gullit (right) is Beckham's new coach in Los Angeles
New LA Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit has told BBC Sport he will not stand in the way of David Beckham continuing his international career.

Beckham, 32, is back in England's squad for next week's friendly in Austria and the Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia after recovering from a knee injury.

Gullit said: "If David believes he has to play for the national team then I will encourage him.

"If the England coach thinks he needs him, then he has to go."

Beckham was expected to be present at the media conference to unveil Gullit as Galaxy's new boss at the Home Depot Center.

606: DEBATE

The England midfielder did meet his new coach in Gullit's first session with his players on Friday, but then left without attending the Dutchman's official unveiling.

An LA Galaxy spokesman said: "David does not want to speak today."

Earlier on Friday, England manager Steve McClaren recalled the midfielder to his squad for next Friday's friendly in Vienna and the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia on 21 November.

Gullit revealed he gave his blessing to Beckham, who has 97 caps, to pursue his international career despite the physical strain of travelling back and forth for England matches and the Galaxy's post-season schedule.

"It is still an honour for any player to play for their country and I can't take that away from him," said the 45-year-old Dutchman.

It is still an honour for any player to play for their country and I can't take that away from him

Gullit on Beckham

"In Europe it is normal for players to be on duty for their country during the season, so I am used to it.

"As long as David is fit and wants to play then I will let him, but if he wants to stop then I will help him with that too."

Beckham's schedule will see him play for the Galaxy in a friendly against Minnesota Thunder in Minneapolis on Sunday.

He will then travel to Vienna for England's friendly on Friday, face Croatia on 21 November before travelling to Australia (27 November) and New Zealand (30 November) for showpiece games with the Galaxy.

The former England captain is contracted to play these games for the LA team and Gullit insists he will not treat the former England captain differently despite his status and international commitments.

"I know David personally but my relationship with him will not be more or less special," Gullit said.

"When he is on the pitch he must do the same as the other players. Although as a coach I will use his experience and use him as a link to the rest of the team."

With a long Major League Soccer post-season break ahead - the 2008 season will not start until April - Beckham had been linked with a loan move back to the Premiership.

However, Gullit was quick to rule out that possibility, saying: "David wants to get his full fitness back here.

"That is what he is doing and I don't see any reason why he would go elsewhere."

Gullit, a former Chelsea and Newcastle manager, will officially take up his new role as Galaxy coach against Sydney FC on 27 November.



SEE ALSO
LA Galaxy name Gullit as new boss
09 Nov 07 |  Football
Beckham returns to England squad
09 Nov 07 |  Internationals
McClaren criticised over Beckham
05 Nov 07 |  Football
Pick your England XI
31 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Beckham misses out on play-offs
22 Oct 07 |  Football
Beckham lines up New Zealand game
18 Sep 07 |  Football
Galaxy cautious on Beckham return
04 Oct 07 |  Internationals
Beckham out of England qualifiers
31 Aug 07 |  Football
Galaxy admit Beckham travel fears
24 Aug 07 |  Football


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