David Beckham has targeted an earlier-than-expected return to action with the Los Angeles Galaxy next Saturday.
The England midfielder, 35, has not played a competitive game since tearing his left Achilles tendon while playing in Italy for Milan in March, an injury that ended his hopes of playing in a fourth World Cup finals this summer.
He has undergone a gruelling rehabilitation programme and has now targeted some involvement in the Galaxy's home Major League Soccer game with the Columbus Crew a week today.
He told lagalaxy.com: "The doctors' original [return] date was 1 October, but I always kind of said I want to be ready before then.
"I'll keep my fingers crossed and, hopefully, will play in part of the game here against Columbus. I'll be on the bench and, hopefully, I'll get on the field for 15-20 minutes."
Beckham, who returned to training with his Galaxy team-mates on 11 August, insisted retirement was never on his mind from the moment the injury occurred.
He said: "When you first have an injury like this and realise how serious it is, you worry that you're not going to get back to playing top-flight soccer. But that probably was in my head for only about 10 seconds."