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Storm
10-04-2007, 05:06 PM
Beckham hopeful of Galaxy return next week By Jill Serjeant
27 minutes ago



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - David Beckham is expected to return to action for the Los Angeles Galaxy next week after six weeks off through injury, the club said on Thursday.

LA Galaxy president Alexi Lalas said the England international had started light training this week after spraining a ligament in his right knee in late August.

"We are hopeful he will play a part in the next two home games -- not this weekend but the following weekend," Lalas said at the annual Honda soccer symposium in Los Angeles.

"But if for one instant, we feel he is physically or mentally not 100 percent ready, he will not play for us nor will he play for England," Lalas added.

Midfielder Beckham, 32, joined the LA Galaxy in July, mid-way through the Major League Soccer (MLS) season on a five-year contract which could potentially earn him a reported $250 million, mainly from endorsements.

But because of a nagging ankle injury, he played only 310 minutes in six games for Galaxy before spraining his knee on August 29.

Lalas said the club had been under tremendous pressure to play Beckham, despite the old ankle injury, when he arrived in Los Angeles with his celebrity wife Victoria.

"Looking back, was it the best decision for him? Probably not," Lalas said. "But...there was so much attention, so much focus on David and people wanted to see him out there."

Beckham's six weeks out with the knee injury after scoring only one goal for Galaxy was seized on by many American commentators as proof the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player had failed in his much-hyped mission to inject new life into the lowly status of the sport in the U.S.

Disappointed fans, who had bought season tickets in record numbers, said they felt cheated.

Lalas said the Beckham signing had already paid off for Galaxy in business terms and had done more to raise the profile of soccer in the United States since the nation hosted the 1994 World Cup finals.

But Galaxy are struggling in fifth place out of six clubs in the Western Division of the MLS as the season nears its end.

"The onfield part of the equation is yet to come to fruition. As wonderful as David is for the marketing for the Galaxy and for Major League Soccer, if he is not playing on the field, and if the team is not playing well on the field, it does not work," Lalas said.