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Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Beckham eyes playing return after Achilles surgery

David Beckham
Beckham used a walking stick before undergoing his operation in Finland

The surgeon who operated on David Beckham's ruptured Achilles tendon has deemed the procedure "a success".

The severity of the injury means the England midfielder could be out for up to six months, said surgeon Sakari Orava, ending his 2010 World Cup hopes.

Beckham, 34, had hoped to appear at his fourth World Cup this summer but was injured playing for AC Milan on Sunday.

"I feel positive and I'm concentrating on getting back to full fitness in the coming months," he told his website.

Beckham is now on crutches and will have his foot in plaster for six to eight weeks, but is confident of overcoming the injury setback.

He will be given a detailed rehabilitation programme by Professor Orava before flying from Finland to London on Wednesday, and then on to America.

Beckham's doctor on surgery

He said the operation "went smoothly and nicely," but when asked if Beckham had any chance of playing at the World Cup starting on 11 June, Orava replied: "No, I don't think so... healing takes a long time.

"It is difficult to say how long the recovery period will be but I would guess it will be three or four months and for example for running it usually takes four or five months until one can do it properly."

The former England captain, who is in his second loan stint with AC Milan from Los Angeles Galaxy, suffered the injury in the final minute of Milan's win over Chievo.

Beckham was unchallenged when he suffered the injury and limped off before being carried away on a stretcher.

AC Milan team-mate Ignazio Abate revealed the England star was inconsolable after the game.

"He's not doing well. He was in tears in the dressing room, he wasn't saying a lot. This has affected us all," he said.

Beckham left his hotel in Milan on Monday morning with his father Ted and flew to Turku in south western Finland to undergo surgery at the clinic of orthopaedic surgeon Orava.

The severity of the injury has prompted speculation that Beckham's career could be over, but before the operation the former England captain's spokesman insisted: "This is not the end of his playing career as has been suggested.

"Even if David does miss the World Cup, he is aiming to play [with LA Galaxy] towards the end of the Major League Soccer season."

England coach Fabio Capello, who has yet to finalise his squad for the World Cup, said Beckham would be a loss for the finals in South Africa but added he believed he could return to the England set-up.

"We hope he will be fit for the next year," Capello told Sky Sports News. "I hope he will be fit for the Euros, next qualifying. He's always one of the best payers in England."

He added: "David is a great professional and has worked very hard to be ready for the World Cup, so missing it will be a big blow."

Beckham's LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena confirmed the England midfielder remained an integral part of his plans.

"David remains an important player for the Galaxy and we look forward to welcoming him back and assisting him in his recovery," Arena stated on the club website.

"We will give him our complete support to make sure that he is able to get himself back to full health before he returns to the field."

Phil McNulty

Former Manchester United star Beckham, England's most capped outfield player with 115 appearances, was bidding to become the first England player to feature in four successive World Cup finals. He shares the record of three with Bobby Moore and Peter Shilton.

And with Tottenham's Aaron Lennon still suffering from a groin problem, Capello may now turn to both Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips to cover the right side of midfield, with James Milner, Joe Cole, Stewart Downing and Adam Johnson also in the reckoning.

Former England defender Martin Keown told BBC Radio 5 live: "Capello's not stupid, he knew there was a role for Beckham within the squad and this is a massive blow.

"He's going to be out for six months, he needs to now look at rescuing his career and what's left of it."

Debut: v Moldova (1/9/1996) - won 3-0
Last game: v Belarus (14/10/2009) - won 3-0
Caps: 115
Goals: 17
Won: 68
Drawn: 26
Lost: 21

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has sent Beckham a message wishing him a "speedy recovery".

"He emphasised what a tremendous ambassador Mr Beckham is for English soccer and wishes him well in his recovery, as I think the whole nation does," said Mr Brown's spokesman.

Beckham's loan spells at AC Milan were a deliberate attempt to convince Capello of his worth in an England squad but he was an unused substitute in the recent friendly win over Egypt and was quoted in several Sunday papers as saying he feared for his place.

Sunday's injury is the latest in a string of heartbreaking World Cup moments for Beckham.

His sending off against Argentina in the second round was widely blamed for costing England their chance of glory in France in 1998.

Four years later he was not fully fit after suffering a broken metatarsal in his foot in the build-up as England went out to 10-man Brazil in the quarter-finals in Japan and South Korea.

In 2006, Beckham limped off midway through the last-eight game against Portugal after sustaining a tear in his right Achilles tendon and a lesion in the ligaments of his left knee.

England went on to lose on penalties and, after the game, Beckham tearfully announced he was relinquishing the captaincy, but he recovered in time to play for Real Madrid in their first game of the Spanish season eight weeks later.

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see also
Lineker plays down Beckham loss
15 Mar 10 |  Football
Q&A: Torn Achilles tendon
15 Mar 10 |  Health
Capello eyes World Cup semi-final
10 Mar 10 |  Football
Man Utd 4-0 AC Milan (agg 7-2)
10 Mar 10 |  Europe
World Cup beyond England - Hurst
06 Mar 10 |  World Cup 2010
England 3-1 Egypt
03 Mar 10 |  Football
Football on the BBC
11 Aug 10 |  Football

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