David Beckham has hailed the impact made on the England squad by Fabio Capello and insisted "progress has been made in every game" under the Italian. England are on the verge of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals after a 6-0 drubbing of Andorra in midweek maintained a perfect record in their group. Victory over Croatia at Wembley in early September will almost certainly mean Capello can start early planning for South Africa next summer. It is a far cry from the doom and gloom of last summer when England could only watch Spain lift the Euro 2008 title after they had failed to book a place in the finals in Austria and Switzerland. But Beckham believes Capello has given cause for optimism although the Los Angeles Galaxy player is keeping his feet firmly on the ground in terms of what England might achieve should they qualify.
Beckham said: "We have ended the season on a high. That is what we wanted to do. You can't get any better than seven wins out of seven. Now we all go away for a few weeks' break and we can enjoy it. "When we didn't qualify for the European Championships, that was a really disappointing time for us. Now we are happy although we still haven't qualified for the World Cup. "We will be happy once we do that and then we can go on from there. We have shown in every game that there has been progress and against Andorra was the same. "It could have been a difficult game but we made it easy for ourselves with the way we played and our professionalism."
Beckham added: "What is at the heart of England's progress? The manager and the management staff, the way they have brought the professionalism into the team and the hard work. "The players have responded to everything the manager has asked of us. He has got great respect for this game and we work hard for him and that is a good recipe for the seven wins we have got so far." Beckham knows it is important that England do not get carried away with the inevitable hype that will accompany such an impressive qualification campaign. He said: "There is always going to be expectation and hype because of the players we have got. We have to be careful. "We have won seven games and put in seven good performances but we are not a team that gets carried away and we are not a squad that gets carried away ? because we can't afford to.
"We want to qualify, that is the goal. Once we have done that, we will see what happens in the competition. "Are England genuine contenders? Most teams going into a World Cup are contenders. There are some great teams, great players, great countries. "But let us qualify first and then we can look towards South Africa." *PA Sport