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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 January, 2005, 07:49 GMT
Eriksson ploy to keep Beckham in
Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips
Wright-Phillips has been in superb form this season
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson might play Shaun Wright-Phillips on the left flank against Holland next month - meaning David Beckham's place is safe.

Wright-Phillips was expected to replace Beckham on the right-hand side of midfield in the friendly at Villa Park.

But Eriksson said: "It's not his best position but I'm sure Shaun could also play on the left. Even if, for Shaun, it's better to be on the right.

"The fact is David is our captain and he will go on being our captain."

Eriksson knows he also has the option of switching Beckham to a central role to accommodate Wright-Phillips, who has been in sparkling form for Manchester City this season, on the right.

"David now for one and a half years has played central midfield for Real Madrid so of course it's possible he could do that maybe for the national team as well," said Eriksson.

"That depends on the way we want to play."

The Swede said he had not been swayed by recent media criticism of Beckham's displays.

"I don't agree with it or understand it," he told BBC Five Live.

"He is playing regular football for Real Madrid, which is not that bad, so I will pick him and he will probably play from the beginning."

England are likely to start with an experienced line-up against the Dutch on 9 February as Eriksson steps up his preparations for World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan in March.

But Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing is likely to be handed a first senior cap against the Dutch.

Downing has been touted as the long-term solution to England's problem on the left side of midfield.

"He's very interesting and he's doing very well and playing better and better," said Eriksson.

"It's good to talk abut players like Wright-Phillips and Stewart Downing.

"They are two young boys, both very talented and playing very good football at this moment, very consistent.

"I don't know who's going to start. First I will pick the squad, 22 players or maybe 23, and I will see if they are tired or not.

"But for sure I will try to start with the best team because it's the only chance we have to play together before the qualification games in March."

Interview: England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson

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