Beckham Debut Will Likely Be Delayed

COMMERCE PARK, Colorado - David Beckham has spoken of his frustration about not being able to start playing football for his new team, the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Beckham, 32, has been sidelined with an ankle injury since he arrived in the United States to begin a new life in Major League Soccer.

And he threw his scheduled debut against Chelsea on Saturday night into doubt by declaring that his chances of playing "don't look good."

"I'm here for five years, I'm not here just for the game on Saturday," Beckham said. "It's great that Chelsea's here with great players and a great manager but it's more important for me personally that my ankle's right."

The England star will at most play a limited part of the game with Chelsea as a late substitute.

Asked whether he was devastated at not being able to play a fuller role in the match during an interview Thursday night with ESPN, he replied: "I am at the moment because I picked up the injury in an England game and it carried on. I've had it for five weeks now and usually with this injury you need six weeks.

"I'm working hard with the physios and the doctors and I know it's important for the club and the Galaxy team but it's important for me to get out there. I want to get back playing as soon as possible."

Beckham was here to attend the MLS All-Star Game against Celtic. He flew in on a private jet with Galaxy general manager and president Alexi Lalas and, having done his interview and been introduced to the crowd at halftime, he returned to Los Angeles after the match with Lalas and teammates Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan, who were second-half substitutes in the 2-0 victory over the Scottish champions.

Lalas put a more positive spin on Beckham's prospects of playing a game which was marketed as Beckham's debut and sold out the 27,000 capacity of the Home Depot Center in Carson, California weeks ago.

"We still anticipate that he's going to play," Lalas said. "To what extent we don't know, obviously, but it's a game-time situation. What we don't want to do is anything that's going to jeopardize the long-term success of David's health.

"It's getting better every single day but we're just going to have to wait until the day and figure it out from there.

Lalas said the hype surrounding Beckham's debut will have no effect on his availability.

"I know it's a huge event this weekend and I know there's a lot attention worldwide on him making his debut this weekend, but as I said before, it's not something we want to do if it's going to jeopardize his ability to play next week or next month or next year.

"This injury is going to heal. He's going to be a success for our team and a successful part of our team for many, many years to come."

Lalas also spoke of Beckham's desperation to take the field against Chelsea, adding: "If there was no possibility he was going to play I'd tell you that but there is a possibility and I think it's pretty clear he wants to play.

"From the first time he landed here he was targeting Saturday to play and I think that if there is any chance that it's possible then he'll be on.

That would only happen, Lalas underlined, if there was no risk involved to his new star.

Throughout all this hurricane that is David Beckham, sometimes it gets lost that this guy is not a robot. He's a human being and we have to treat as a human being.

"We're not going to risk it if the amount of time he does or does not play is going to affect him further on down the line. It's a big game, an important game, but guess what, there's going to be another one next week and another one the following week."


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