Beckham fights to be fit for key game as tests reveal arthritis

David Beckham was given some good news and some bad news on his 30th birthday yesterday.

The good news is that the foot injury he picked up in the weekend game at Real Sociedad is not as serious as first thought. The bad news is that the England captain is suffering from a mild form of arthritis.

Beckham was injured in a 20th-minute collision with the Sociedad midfielder Valery Karpin during the match in San Sebastian on Saturday, but Real Madrid came away with a 2-0 win that keeps them within reach of La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Tests have established that reports which suggested he could have suffered a hairline fracture of his big toe were wide of the mark. Instead, a mild form of arthritis is affecting the ligament in his toe.

"The doctors are optimistic that he will be fit in time to play the next game against Racing [Santander] and, above all, Beckham wants to play," a Real Madrid statement said.

There was some controversy surrounding his England tea

m-mate Wayne Rooney after the young striker was dropped as a star guest at a prominent schools match.

The Manchester United player was to be guest of honour at an under-13 Coca-Cola Cup semi-final at the Riverside Stadium next Monday. However, his on-field conduct, in particular his swearing at referees, has persuaded the English Schools FA to look elsewhere. "We just feel there are better role models at the moment for schools football," the ESFA chief executive, John Read, said.

The Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, maintained that he is not considering his future at The Valley and has started planning for next season. In the wake of Sunday's defeat by Manchester United, the 47-year-old said: "Maybe I've been here too long, I don't know" during a post-match interview. The Charlton manager, however, later dismissed suggestions that he might reflect on his own future during the summer.

Yesterday, he reiterated his position and said: "After seeing the reports surrounding my future, I do feel that my comments have been taken out of context. I have been at the club a long time, but I'm looking to strengthen the squad."

Dunfermline yesterday parted company with their manager, Davie Hay, by mutual consent. The club's coach, Paul Hegarty, will act as caretaker for Saturday's relegation encounter with Dundee. Meanwhile, the Scottish Premier League board has voted to outlaw Dunfermline's synthetic pitch for next season.

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