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Ailing ankle could still delay Beckham's Galaxy debut

David Beckham sounds a pessimistic note as he discusses his race for fitness ahead of his proposed American debut against Chelsea.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Los Angeles
UPDATED ON JUL 20, 2007 12:13 PM IST

David Beckham sounded a pessimistic note on Thursday as he discussed his race for fitness ahead of his proposed Los Angeles Galaxy debut against English FA Cup champions Chelsea on Saturday.

"At the moment I'm still having a lot of treatment, at the moment it doesn't look good that I'm going to play," the newly arrived English superstar said in a television interview at halftime of Major League Soccer's All-Star Game in Denver.

Beckham is nursing a left ankle injury that he picked up playing for England in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia in June. He aggravated the injury in his last match for Spanish club Real Madrid prior to arriving to take up his new post with Major League Soccer's Galaxy.

"The swelling is still there," he said, acknowledging that the the lure of playing Chelsea in a high profile friendly was great, but not worth risking a setback that would dog him for the rest of the Galaxy's MLS season.

"I'm here for five years," he said. "I'm not here just for the game on Saturday. It's great Chelsea are here, it's great to have a great team and great manager here. But it's more important for me that the ankle is right."

"Maybe I will play some part towards the end of the game if it's all right, but we'll see."

Beckham was passed fit to travel to Denver on Thursday, where he was a guest of MLS at the mid-season All-Star Game featuring a fan-selected MLS side taking on Scottish champions Celtic.

"David has gone to Colorado but there is no change in his status," said a Galaxy spokesmam, who said Beckham's condition was being evaluated on a "day-to-day" basis.

There had been concerns that a five-hour round trip between Los Angeles and Denver might exacerbate the swelling in Beckham's left ankle.

MLS commissioner Don Garber insisted Beckham, who signed a five-year contract that could be worth up to 250 million dollars, wouldn't have made the trip to Denver if Galaxy staff objected.

"If for any reason either he or his coaching, technical or training staff didn't think that the trip was in his interests then there is no way would we encourage him to do so," Garber said.

"David's playing football is the priority, absolutely, and there is no pressure from a commercial standpoint on David Beckham or on any player in Major League Soccer."

Beckham, who was seen getting treatment as he watched the Galaxy fall 3-0 to Mexico's Tigres in a fiendly on Tuesday, said he was doing all he could to get fit.

"I'm working hard with the physios and the doctors, I'm doing everything I can," he said. "I know it's important for the Galaxy as a team and it's important for me to be out there. I want to get back playing as soon as possible."

Chelsea and England captain John Terry was among the many hoping Beckham would be able to play on Saturday at the Home Depot Center.

"It would be nice to play against David, and hopefully his ankle's OK," Terry said. "Fingers crossed, because it will be a great occasion for everyone."

"There will be 27,000 here, it's a lovely stadium and this is a chance to come over and show what we can do."

Terry played for 45 minutes against Korean side Suwon Bluewings at the Home Depot Center on Tuesday night, when Chelsea won 1-0 with an 80th-minute goal from Didier Drogba.

Chelsea kicked off their pre-season US tour with a 2-1 victory over Mexico's Club America last Saturday.

In both Stateside friendlies, manager Jose Mourinho has made wholesale substitutions at halftime as he took a look at his players.

But he said on Tuesday that he planned to pick a bona fide starting lineup for Saturday's match and make more sparing substitutions.

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