Beckham doubtful for Real following rib injury

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The Independent Football

David Beckham is doubtful for Real Madrid's game against Real Sociedad on Saturday after missing training yesterday.

The England captain suffered bruising to his ribs and will have a fitness test later in the week. The Real coach, Juan Lopez Caro, is hoping the midfielder recovers in time for the game at the Bernabeu as Zinedine Zidane is already out of action with a thigh injury.

After last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Barcelona, Real are second in the Primera Liga but two points clear of Valencia and three in front of Osasuna. Second place guarantees an automatic place in next season's Champions' League, while the sides that finish third and fourth will enter the qualifying rounds.

Elsewhere, Germany's World Cup preparations continue to falter. Yesterday, the Bayern Munich general manager, Uli Hoeness, accused the Germany coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, of waging a campaign of "psychological terror" on Oliver Kahn that he says is to blame for the goalkeeper's recent mistakes.

Hoeness lambasted Klinsmann for his decision to wait until next month before picking either Bayern's Kahn or rival Jens Lehmann, of Arsenal, to be Germany's first-choice goalkeeper for the World Cup.

"Not making a decision on the starting goalkeeper after the last friendly against the United States was irresponsible," Hoeness said. "It's psychological terror, absolute psycho terror."

Kahn made two costly errors in Bayern Munich's 2-2 home draw against the Bundesliga bottom side Cologne on Saturday. The 36-year-old also made a glaring mistake in Germany's 4-1 win over the United States last month.

"We could have avoided all these problems," Hoeness said. "The clubs are paying the price for this. The intensification of the goalkeeper issue has become a huge problem. The hunt for the job has caused a lot of problems."

In one of his first acts as coach in 2004, Klinsmann stripped Kahn of his first-choice status and his captaincy. Public support for Kahn has plunged in the last month while backing for Lehmann surged. A recent survey found the number in favour of Kahn fell to 36 per cent from 49 per cent in February, while those opting for Lehmann jumped to 30 per cent from 19 per cent.

Kahn, who led Germany to the 2002 World Cup final, and Lehmann - for six years his understudy - have been locked in a bitter battle since Klinsmann arrived and shook things up in an attempt to promote competition.

Lehmann, also 36, has enjoyed a run of clean sheets for Arsenal and performed well in recent Champions' League matches. Klinsmann was in Turin last night to watch Lehmann in Arsenal's Champions' League match against Juventus.

"The whole issue is getting on my nerves and it's time to make a decision," the Bayern chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, said yesterday.

"I've had enough. He should let his trousers down now and say 'It's whoever and that's it'. The whole Bundesliga can't understand what's going on anymore," Rummenigge added.

The World Cup preparations of Atsushi Yanagisawa are also in disarray after the Japan striker left hospital yesterday following surgery on his right foot.

With shades of Beckham's plight four years ago, he suffered a broken metatarsal during a J-League match last month shortly after returning to his former club Kashima Antlers from Messina.

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