Beckham on pace to return

LA star targeting showdown vs. Crew

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CARSON, Calif. – A week ago, David Beckham announced his plans of returning to action against the Columbus Crew.

In training this week, he looked like a man sticking to his promise.

Beckham
participated in a fast-paced training session Tuesday, which was capped
off with roughly 10 minutes of sprints. It all adds up to encouraging
signs that the Englishman will be ready to make his season debut against
Columbus on Saturday.

To his teammates, Beckham has looked just
as sharp as ever and has not shown many signs that he suffered a
debilitating injury just six short months ago.

“You can tell he
has that competitiveness back,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said.
“When you come back from something that long, you’re kind of careful at
first. Now he’s over that.”

Should Beckham – who did not speak to
the media on Tuesday – return to action against the Crew, it would mark
an earlier-than-expected return to action after suffering a torn
Achilles tendon while playing for AC Milan in March.

Beckham’s injury immediately ruled him out of the World Cup and his availability to the Galaxy seemed bleak.

Once
he began rehabilitating the injury, doctors told Beckham a return to
MLS could be possible by Oct. 1. Beckham returned to training on Aug. 11
and said then he was hoping to return sometime in September.

His
training sessions initially were spent mostly apart from the rest of the
squad. While his teammates ran through short-sided games, Beckham ran
through drills designed to help him get his strength and agility back.

Slowly he moved back with the team full-time and has been participating in full training sessions for more than one week.

“It’s
given us a boost,” Dunivant said. “Anytime you can add someone like
David Beckham to their team at this stage of the season is going to be a
big plus for you.”

Still, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena insisted the
timetable for Beckham’s return was not quite fulfilled, and that the
team was still working on getting Beckham to return to action.

“Having
a player of that quality around is huge. It makes a difference,” Arena
said. “Therefore, that’s why we’re hopeful we get him to a point where
he can get on the field and help us this year.”

If Beckham plays
against Columbus, the players will welcome him with open arms. If he is
not able to step onto the field, he could return to the Galaxy on Sept.
18 against D.C. United.

“I think it’s up to him and the coaching
staff to realize where David’s at,” Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez said.
“If it’s still hurting him, another game won’t hurt to sit him out but
if he’s ready to go, it’s all up to him.”

Whatever happens on
Saturday, Galaxy players said they would go about their business in
their critical match against Columbus. Both teams have 44 points and are
leading the race for the Supporters’ Shield.

“We’ve got to be
good professionals and do our job,” Dunivant said. “If he does get some
time, it will be great. If he doesn’t, he’ll be ready the next week I’m
sure. David is the ultimate competitor and he’ll want to be out there.”