Beckham hoping to play 90 minutes in exhibition

November 26, 2007

SYDNEY, Australia -- David Beckham and his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates held a workout at the Olympic stadium on Monday before substantially less than the sellout crowd of 80,000 that is expected there for an exhibition match the following night.

The English star appeared to be concerned about his left ankle several times, clutching it during training and having treatment on the pitch, but Los Angeles coach Ruud Gullit said Beckham will play -- hopefully all 90 minutes -- in the friendly against Sydney FC on Tuesday night.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder said he was just rearranging his clothing around the ankle.

Beckham later took a motor launch down Sydney Harbour to a pontoon set up in the shadows of the landmark Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, where he kicked rugby balls, Australian Rules footballs and soccer balls in a sponsor's promotion with local football stars.

Although he had trouble with a couple of kicks with the oval-shaped balls, Beckham showed no signs of the right knee and left ankle injuries that limited his first Major League Soccer season with the Galaxy to just five matches.

The Sydney match will be Gullit's first in charge of Galaxy and the former European footballer of the year viewed it as an opportunity to look at his new players.

"It's the first time for me to see where we can improve, for them to see what I expect from them and it's also good for us to get to know each other," Gullit said.

Beckham flew into Sydney on Sunday aboard a private jet from London, was expected to be the guest of honor at a reception on Monday night that had the city's social set clamoring for invitations.

On Sunday, Beckham was accused of snubbing a group of child cancer survivors. But Beckham said he did not see the children waiting outside his hotel as he arrived from the airport under police escort.

"I would never have done that," Beckham said. "Never have done, never will do. I'm more than willing to meet them wherever they want and at whatever time that they want. I apologize, but like I said, I didn't actually see them."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press