Beckham targeting return next week
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David Beckham, sidelined since March with a torn Achilles tendon, is hoping to take the field for the Los Angeles Galaxy against Columbus Crew on 11 September.

"The doctors' original date was October 1, but I always kind of said I want to be ready before then," Beckham said in an article posted on the Major League Soccer team's website. "I'll keep my fingers crossed and hopefully will play in part of the game here against Columbus. I'll be on the bench, and hopefully I'll get on the field for 15-20 minutes. That's what I'm looking at."

The 35-year-old Beckham, England's most capped outfield player, missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ after tearing his left Achilles tendon on 14 March while playing on loan for AC Milan. He took part in his first full training session with the Galaxy on 11 August and has gradually stepped up his work, although he gauged his fitness level as "like being in preseason."

"You wake up with a lot more pain in your body when you're in preseason," said Beckham, who also admitted that some moves such as quick turns are still tough. "I have to do it because I need to get as close to match fitness as possible."

Beckham, who was on crutches for six weeks, said real fitness will only come from playing matches, and he wants to get back to top form in time to help the Galaxy finish out the season and MLS Cup playoffs. After a strong start to the season Los Angeles have won only three of their last ten matches and seen their Western Conference lead over Real Salt Lake dwindle to three points. "It's just about getting over this slump, then once we do that hopefully we can go all the way," Beckham said.

Similarly, Beckham continues to look toward his own footballing future, even after England coach Fabio Capello's summary dismissal of the veteran from future England plans. Beckham said his injury never prompted thoughts of retirement.

"Not at any point," he said. "When you first have an injury like this and realize how serious an injury it is, you worry that you're not going to get back to playing top flight soccer. But that probably was in my head for only about ten seconds.