Beckham's debut still in doubt

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Beckham said on Saturday he's seven to 10 days away from starting a game because of a left ankle injury.

Updated: August 06, 2007 18:04 IST
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David Beckham's MLS debut is still on hold.

Beckham said on Saturday he's seven to 10 days away from starting a game because of a left ankle injury and probably won't even be on the bench when the Los Angeles Galaxy play Toronto FC on Sunday.

Beckham, whose missed a Superliga game at FC Dallas earlier in the week, asked for patience and understanding.

"I'm here for five years and maybe more," he told a news conference. "That's where people may have to be slightly patient and not think that I'm just here for the glitz and the glamour. I'm here to play soccer, I'm not here to play anything else."

Beckham practiced on Saturday, but was restricted to running.

"It needs to be right," he said. "There's no point in me coming back and playing in a game - when people are expecting me to play at a high level like I can and I do - and not performing."

After Toronto, the Galaxy next play on Thursday in Washington against DC United and August 12 at the New England Revolution. They are back at home on Aug. 15 for a Superliga semifinal against DC United and they play three days later at the New York Red Bulls.

The 32-year-old former England captain has played only 16 minutes in a Galaxy shirt since his high-profile transfer, as a substitute in a July 21 exhibition against Chelsea.

"He's more frustrated than anyone," goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. "You can tell, he wants to play."

Galaxy players spoke fondly about their celebrity teammate.

"You know what, he's an absolute normal guy," said defender Ante Jazic. "When you see all the media attention he has, in the locker-room he's quiet, he keeps to himself, polite, talks to the guys. He's just a normal guy."

Landon Donovan, now the Galaxy's second-brightest star, played up to the hype.

"What's David like? He's pretty handsome," said Donovan, mischievously. "He's actually very handsome. Really unassuming for someone of his fame and stature but he's been good. He's been enjoyable."

Beckham signed a five-year contract with the Galaxy in January that will pay him $32.5 million in salary.

Asked if he was worth the money, Donovan said: "He's worth every penny. You guys are here talking to us. There's people following us. Fans are filling up the stadiums, jerseys are selling, media exposure's better. So for me it's worth every penny."

Donovan said Beckham's ankle is improving.

"When he got here, it was like a balloon," he said. "You kind of looked at it and said, 'You're going to play on that?'

"When he played in the Chelsea game, it was almost a miracle at that point. He shouldn't have been playing probably. But he's getting a lot better."

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