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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
My metatarsal hell
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By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport Online

I know how David Beckham feels.

OK, I have never been in danger of missing a World Cup in which I would have captained my national team - but I have broken a metatarsal bone in my foot.

Like Beckham, my injury happened in a heavy tackle in a football match.

And I have bad news for anyone hoping that Beckham will be ready to play in England's opening World Cup match on 2 June.

David Beckham grimaces after breaking his foot
A broken metatarsal is extremely painful

An after-work five-a-side game is not quite the same as a Champions League quarter-final, but however it happens, a broken metatarsal bone is very painful, and very disruptive.

Manchester United have revealed that Beckham has broken the second metatarsal bone, but whichever it was, he was always facing a good few weeks out of training.

I broke the fifth metatarsal, the one that connects to your little toe.

It was a month before I could walk on it without serious discomfort, and six weeks before I was not trying to compensate by either limping or walking on the side of my foot.

As soon as the tackle happened, I knew something serious was wrong - the pain was intense and immediate.

I collapsed and was carried off the pitch, and although I managed to drive myself home, I could not walk on the limb when I got there.

Pain killers

The next morning, the pain was worse, and I spent the day with the foot in ice.

I was due to go to the French Grand Prix the following morning and for a while I wondered if I would be able to go.

In the end, I managed it, even if I probably should not have done.

I dosed up on heavy-duty pain killers, stuck an elasticated bandage on the injured foot, and just about managed to hobble around the paddock at the Magny-Cours track.

Beckham goes in for the fateful tackle with Duscher
Impacts from heavy tackles can easily break delicate bones

That is unlikely to be the sort of rehabilitation recommended to Beckham.

But there is little doctors can do other than ensure the bone is in line and leave it to heal.

In the circumstances, it is difficult to see how he will be able to keep himself match fit.

There will be exercises he can do, but he will need to rest his foot - that is the best way to ensure it heals as quickly as possible.

With a broken second metatarsal, Beckham should be able to be in some form of training a couple of weeks before England's first World Cup match.

In that case, it would depend on how much fitness he has lost in the period he has been forced to spend resting.

So all hope is not lost, but on the whole, it does not look good.

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