Feature: Shaun start is long overdue

Last updated : 03 September 2004 By Ben Collins
..."just imagine if we had Shaun on the right - he'd be terrorising them."

David Beckham was clearly not at his best during the summer. He was tired and never tracked back like he usually does. Also, he persisted with hitting long-balls into the box to nobody, and never ran at their full-back (though he never does anyway).

It's easy to say now, but Shaun would have run all day long - tracking-back and running at defenders - right through to the end of extra-time.

However, even I wouldn't suggest dropping Beckham completely. He's a great passer/crosser of the ball, but can only do it when the ball's delivered to him in ten yards of space - if he's marked tight he can't do anything.

His ability to distribute the ball, releasing the forwards, makes him suited to a central role, and it makes sense for him to cover there if Steven Gerrard is ruled out on Saturday.

Real Madrid could see it, and he proved he could play centre-mid in Spain last season, but for some reason Sven Goran Eriksson didn't see it. He didn't recognise Beckham's best assets, and he didn't recognise what Shaun could provide him in Portugal.

He didn't recognise Gerrard's ability to play on the left - even though he showed in the Japan friendly at City and the home Turkey qualifier that he can play there - cutting in with pace on his right and spreading the play.

Neither could he see that Scholes' days were numbered and that he should have started with Lampard in an attacking central role instead.

It may be too late for Portugal now but imagine - Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Shaun.....just imagine.