Globetrotter David Beckham's draining trans-Atlantic schedule is beginning to concern his employers Los Angeles Galaxy.
The former England captain drew a blank, along with his team-mates, in Galaxy's 3-0 Major League Soccer derby defeat against Chivas USA on America's west coast last night - less than 30 hours after he had finished playing for his country against Germany around 5,500 miles away at Wembley.
Galaxy general manager Alexei Lalas responded by conceding there will come a point when Beckham's body can no longer sustain his double life.
Lalas told BBC Sport: "We have a vested interest in this player and we have spent a tremendous amount of money to retain his services.
"We want to make sure we get our money's worth and that he is healthy and both physically and mentally ready to go when he plays for the Galaxy.
"I'm not going to deny there comes a point when your body can't do it any more."
Lalas hinted too that Galaxy will not be afraid to try to stop Beckham - signed in a deal reportedly worth in excess of £120million - burning himself out with avoidable air miles.
"If at any point we felt it was detrimental to his health or ability to help our team we would take action," Lalas added.
Beckham, who has been troubled by a well-chronicled ankle injury, made his long-awaited first start for his new team in New York last weekend - before flying to London for England's friendly against Germany on Wednesday.
The midfielder was used for the full 90 minutes of England's 2-1 defeat, having also played the whole game in New York - and then flew back to Los Angeles yesterday.
More of the same appears inevitable as Beckham tries to fulfil his commitments to two masters, with a glut of MLS matches set to come thick and fast while the 32-year-old continues his efforts to try to help England qualify for the Euro 2008 championships over the next two months.
His latest long-haul flight was to little avail - because he was unable to inspire Galaxy against Chivas, for whom Maykel Galindo scored two goals.
Beckham managed just two shots, both off target, and was involved in a skirmish in the 48th minute.
After he was fouled by midfielder Jesse Marsch, Chivas defender Alex Zotinca and Galaxy midfielder Kevin Harmse were ejected for violent conduct.
Zotinca head-butted Harmse, who had punched Zotinca.
After a scoreless first half, Galindo took a long ball which was miscontrolled by Galaxy defender Kyle Veris and sent a quick shot past goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
Galindo collected his 10th goal of the season after taking a pass from Francisco Mendoza in the 69th minute, doubling Chivas' lead.
Mendoza followed with his first goal of the season in the 88th minute - a left-footed shot from 12 yards.
Chivas goalkeeper Brad Guzan needed to make just one save en route to his eighth clean sheet of the season.
Lalas, meanwhile, was diplomatic as he spoke respectfully of Beckham's England ambitions.
"We would never stand in the way of a player representing their country," he insisted.
"David's love of England and the honour that it is for him to represent his country is evident from the first time you talk to him."
Even so, Galaxy know they must protect their prize asset.
"There will certainly be moments when we need to sit down with him and do what's best for our organisation and him," Lalas continued.
"There are FIFA dates that we have to abide by and will continue to do so. But if it is a friendly game that doesn't fall on a FIFA date that is obviously something we will have to discuss with the player."
Beckham's spokesman Simon Oliveira does not anticipate insurmountable problems in his client's schedule.
"We are not worried," he said.
"David is very confident he will be in peak condition - both for England and his club."Reuse content