John Barnes believes David Beckham's England career is over.
The former skipper has been sidelined for at least four months after tearing his Achilles tendon in action for AC Milan.
The full extent of the injury will not be known until he undergoes surgery, but it has effectively ruled Beckham out of this summer's World Cup and plunged his playing future into doubt.
Barnes, who's own career was dogged by similar problems, says there is no reason why, even at 35, he cannot make a return to club football but finds it hard to believe the former captain will pull on an England shirt again.
"I've no doubt he'll come back," he told Sky Sports News.
"David never relied on pace; I did so my game was affected and it affected me. But having never really relied on pace he can come back and do everything he has done in the past.
"Whether he wants to - because it may be the end of his England career and he may just want to concentrate on club football - only he can decide.
"Everyone thought that if he played in this World Cup it would be his last World Cup, but if he's been out - and he possibly could be out for a year - would he have that hunger and drive there to get back to fitness to play football and secondly play football for his international team? We really have to see what the nature of the injury is.
"If we all thought this was going to be his last swansong, it would be difficult for him to come back and play international football again."
Barnes believes though, that his absence will be a blow to both World Cup organisers and Fabio Capello.
He did admit that his leadership skills and sheer presence will be missed by England in South Africa this summer but was keen to point out that it now gives the younger generation a chance to emerge from his shadow.
"What I really do feel is this will galvanise the squad," he said. "It could release the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Ashley Young, because I really do feel who has played in that position has been inhibited all the time David has been there.
"That could give those right-sided young players a new lease of life because they can perform without fear of coming off. At the moment Shaun Wright-Phillips looks to be the one most in form, but I really do feel we have to wait until the beginning of May to see who's really in form.
"What I do know is that we don't have a problem down the right because we have three players there - and not all of them are going to be injured or out of form."