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Beckham plays down US influence

On-loan AC Milan midfielder David Beckham believes the game in the United States will grow whether or not he stays with Los Angeles Galaxy.

The England star - who last week equalled his country's caps record for an outfield player - will remain at Milan until the start of the new Major League Soccer season next month and has made it clear he wants to stay in Italy permanently.

He admitted after Milan's 2-1 derby defeat to Inter on Sunday night that it would be "difficult" for him to go back to the USA now, and does not believe his presence in MLS will have a major impact on how the game develops across the Atlantic.

"I obviously think there is a big chance that the game over there will grow," he said.

"I said it from the moment that I went over there that it will take more than five, 10 or 15 years and that's not changed.

"I'm still committed as an ambassador, but for the moment I want to play my football here."

Beckham suffered a slight hamstring injury against Inter which makes him a doubt for Wednesday's UEFA Cup tie against Werder Bremen.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti had included Beckham in his list of eligible players for the competition despite the fact he would only be able to take part in two games should he, as planned, return to the States next month.

But the Milan coach remains confident a solution can still be reached with the Galaxy, even if they appeared to close the door on negotiations this weekend.

"All I know is that he is with us until March 9 and we have until then to make a decision about him," Ancelotti said.

Whatever happens, Beckham will still be in Milan next week when his former club Manchester United come to face Inter at the San Siro in the last 16 of the Champions League.

And he will be donning his Red Devils scarf that night in support of his old team mates.

"They are two great teams, both United and Inter, and they have incredible players," he said.

"It is going to be a great game and I hope United win. I will definitely be here to watch it."