Beckham expects November return

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David Beckham admitted yesterday that he will not play football again until November, meaning that his earliest potential return for England would be in ten months' time in next year's February friendly – if he does return to international football.

The midfielder, who is 35 on Sunday, said in interviews in America yesterday that he had revised the likely schedule of his recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon that has ruled him out the summer's World Cup finals. It means that he will miss the Los Angeles Galaxy's regular Major League Soccer season and will only play for them again if they make the play-offs.

There are no guarantees that Beckham will be picked again after this summer's World Cup but should Fabio Capello – or his successor – select him then he will not be available for the first three Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria, Switzerland and Montenegro. His earliest potential return to competitive action for England would be against Wales in March next year.

It now seems even more unlikely that Beckham's international career is to continue to his 116th cap, leaving him ten short of Peter Shilton's England appearance record. However, his capacity to return against the odds should not be underestimated.

Beckham said on US television: "I won't be running for another three months, so I will be playing again in, probably, November. My mentality is to kind of push it and get moving and running as soon as possible. But it's an injury that has to take time to heal.

"It's frustrating. It's obviously disappointing because I've been working for the last two years to get into the English [World Cup] squad. At the moment, it's just getting the motion back into the ankle, the tendon, because it's still repairing. I'm trying to get mobilization back into the ankle."

Beckham sustained the injury playing for Milan against Chievo on 14 March. He said: "It was like being hit by a hockey puck. I thought someone was behind me and kicked me. Obviously, no one was there and I saw my foot hanging, and then I felt down there and there was a hole."

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