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Galaxy's Beckham nursing bad ankle

Galaxy's Beckham nursing bad ankle

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CARSON, Calif. - David Beckham was limited to some stretching and kicking drills because of a lingering ankle injury in his first practice Monday since joining the Los Angeles Galaxy.

He is scheduled to make his playing debut Saturday in an exhibition against Chelsea, but Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said the superstar midfielder is day-to-day.

"His ankle is quite swollen," Yallop said. "We're hoping it recovers quickly and he can have some part in the game."

Beckham didn't speak to reporters after practice.

He originally hurt his left ankle playing for England in a European Championship qualifier on June 6 and it flared up again June 17 in his final game with Real Madrid.

Saturday's game, part of the four-team World Series of Football, is sold out and ESPN will televise it live, using 19 cameras to track Beckham.

The Galaxy (3-5-4) will take part Tuesday night in the World Series' opening doubleheader, which Beckham was never penciled in to play.

He smiled and waved to about 1,000 fans who attended the open practice three days after Beckham's confetti-filled introduction at the stadium.

Several of his No. 23 jerseys - L.A.'s hottest fashion trend - were spotted in the stands.

"It's insane," Galaxy defender Quaras Kirk said. "It's like a circus. Obviously, we're not used to it, but it's great."

Ethan Allen of Torrance wore a red Manchester United jersey, Beckham's old team in England.

"Before this season, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've been to a Galaxy game," he said. "But since Beckham is here, I'm going to support Major League Soccer and I'm going to support the Galaxy as well."

Beckham's new teammates did the bulk of the work in practice while he alternately sat on the field watching, his left ankle taped, and stretched in front of flashing camera lenses.

He wore the same gold jersey and blue shorts as his teammates. His jersey had short sleeves, a switch from the long-sleeved style he prefers.

Youngsters clutching soccer balls and pens shouted "Beckham!" trying to get his attention and an autograph.

"It's going to be interesting to see how he turns the team around," said Brian Caplen of Long Beach, a London native who wore an older Chelsea jersey.

"Obviously, he's got the skills but one player does not make a team. I wouldn't say I'm a Galaxy fan, but I'm curious to see how well they do."

So is Landon Donovan, the Galaxy's resident star before Beckham arrived.

"It's not basketball, where one player can make a massive, massive difference," he said. "While David is a very good player, we have to play well to make that work."

Donovan said the team is "grateful" for the onslaught of worldwide attention their new addition has generated.

"It's better than the alternative," he said.

Donovan described Beckham as "a little shy" his first day with the team Friday.

"He's warmed up a lot the last couple days," he said. "He's a great guy. I've heard that from people and now I can confirm it."

Clearly, a feeling out process was under way for Beckham and his teammates, some of whom were taken aback by the screaming fans and horde of journalists - elements absent from typical practices.

"He's used to this kind of hoopla and attention, but we're not," goaltender Joe Cannon said. "But he's been a gentleman, a good guy in the locker room. Anyone that comes in with so much hype surrounding them, you don't feel bad for the guy, but we understand and let him do his thing."

Already, the team has teased Beckham about his famous bending free kicks.

"When we do get a free kick, we joke around, 'Hey, David, let me take this one,"' Cannon said.

Beckham's health is the No. 1 question on the minds of his teammates, fans, sponsors and TV executives.

"He's getting better. He's still not 100 percent," Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas said. "Yeah, we want him out there. He wants to play. But we have to remind people this is a human and not a robot."

Lalas said it would be up to the team's training staff to decide whether Beckham is able to play Saturday.

"He's chomping at the bit," Donovan said.


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