O'Neill's availability could put Capello's England job under threat

Fabio Capello's stock in England is on a downward spiral after his decision to call an end to David Beckham's England career.

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Martin O'Neill's shock decision to quit Aston Villa has put Fabio Capello's position as England manager under pressure. Capello's stock in England is on a downward spiral after his decision to call an end to David Beckham's England career backfired into a media campaign against the Italian. In the wake of England's poor performance at the World Cup - culminating in a 4-1 loss to Germany in the last 16 stage - there were members of the English Football Association's (FA) international committee who wanted Capello removed.

But it was decided to stick with the former AC Milan and Real Madrid coach on the basis there was no obvious available successor. However, O'Neill's availability may now give the FA the confidence to ditch Capello. Beckham is seen as a key to England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. The FA hope his role as lead ambassador will sway votes of Fifa delegates in their favour. In an interview televised on Wednesday, Capello declared that Beckham was too old to continue at international level and the LA Galaxy midfielder, 35, did not disguise his disgust at how he had been treated, letting it be known that he does not consider his England playing days over and telling reporters that he felt "disrespected, disappointed and dismayed".

An FA source admitted: " There are increasing worries about Capello. It has certainly not gone down well how things have blown up around the Beckham situation. "David is a very popular figure at the FA and it would be a blow to the World Cup bid at this delicate stage if David's involvement is affected." O'Neill was one of several candidates the FA interviewed after the 2006 World Cup finals when Sven-Goran Eriksson left. Steve McClaren, who worked under the Swede for several years, was eventually appointed.

It is understood that some members of the FA international committee did not like an aspect during O'Neill's interview when he displayed no interest in being involved in the FA's youth development programme. If Capello were to be sacked, he could be entitled to more than £10 million (Dh58m) due to a clause in his contract. sports@thenational.ae