Beckham on track for Barça battle

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The Independent Online

David Beckham, the England captain, will return to training today as he aims to be fit for Real Madrid's trip to Barcelona on Saturday.

The midfielder missed team training yesterday as a precaution after suffering bruising on his right ankle. Instead he concentrated on physiotherapy, undergoing a brief exercise session. But the in-form 30-year-old will rejoin his team-mates today ahead of the high-pressure trip to Catalonia.

Beckham suffered the injury against Deportivo La Coruña last weekend and took the precaution of resting it yesterday. He suffered no ill-effects from the light session with the physio Jose Luis San Martin.

"He didn't train with the rest of the group for precautionary reasons and he didn't show any signs of discomfort," San Martin said.

In France, Monaco's Christian Vieri will be out for up to four weeks with a knee injury, the sports daily L'Equipe reported yesterday. The Italian international striker was injured during his side's 1-1 Ligue 1 draw against Paris St-Germain on Sunday, and has received treatment in Italy.

"I have to be optimistic, I have no choice," said the Italy coach Marcello Lippi, who has until 15 May to name his squad for the World Cup finals in Germany this summer.

The German football federation, the DFB, will investigate a match in the eastern city of Halle in which a Nigerian player was the target of racist taunts from fans and responded with a Nazi salute. German authorities requested a report from the Northeastern Football Federation on events during the Fourth Division match between Halle and Leipzig on Saturday. Spectators taunted the Leipzig defender Adebowale Ogungburethroughout the game and he was assaulted as he left the pitch. He countered with a Nazi salute.

Making a Hitler gesture is illegal in Germany. But a police investigation into the player's gesture has been dropped because prosecutors say that the Nigerian was acting in protest rather than in support of a banned political organisation.

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