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 April 18, 2002 | 1300 IST

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Making finals is my biggest test-Beckham

David Beckham insists recovering from his broken foot in time to play in the World Cup is the biggest challenge of his career.

The England captain, pilloried for getting sent off at France 98, expects to play in this year's tournament in South Korea and Japan.

"I've had a few tests so far...(but) this is probably the biggest mental test of my career," the Manchester United midfielder told MUTV in his first interview since suffering the injury.

"I haven't had a bad injury before. This is the first one. It's difficult but I have to get on with it. I can't sit back and sulk."

Beckham broke the second metatarsal bone in his left foot under a challenge from Argentine Aldo Duscher during United's Champions League quarter-final victory over Deportivo Coruna a week ago.

The 26-year-old admits he is unlikely to play for United again this season, even though -- should they beat Bayer Leverkusen in the semifinals -- Beckham's team mates will have a Champions League final to look forward to on May 15.

He is, however, determined to be fit for England's first match of the finals, against Sweden on June 2.

The London-born player has had an oxygen tent installed at his home to aid his recovery, which has been estimated at between six to eight weeks.

"I am having treatment and they are giving me different things to do and it's just a case of seeing how the bone heals, and if it knits back together," he said.

"Hopefully I will be up and running in six weeks and kicking a ball and that's a realistic target.

"I think the World Cup is a possibility and unless something goes wrong I will get there.

"The World Cup is motivating more than anything...the World Cup is the light at the end of the tunnel.

"If (United) get through to the European Cup final I would love to be fit for that but realistically that isn't going to happen."


Beckham dismisses media talk that Duscher's tackle was a pre-meditated attempt to rule him out of the World Cup finals. Argentina face England in group F at the World Cup, with the two countries meeting on June 7.

"No I don't blame (Duscher)," Beckham said. "I think it was a bad tackle and I knew that at the time.

"People have been saying things about whether it's a coincidence with him being an Argentine...but it's one of those things and I have to accept it.

"To be fair to the player, he (phoned) me and apologised and said he didn't mean to put me out of games or hurt me. It happens and I accept his apology. For him to ring up and apologise is something."

Beckham said he realised a bone had broken as soon as he tried to return to the action during the Champions League game at Old Trafford, and at the time feared he would be unable to play in the World Cup.

"I went into the tackle...and I felt the pain," he said.

"As soon as...I put my foot back down I felt it crack. That's when I knew it was broken.

"Everything runs through your mind at that point and it did with me. I started thinking about United matches and then I thought, 'God this could be a World Cup'."

Beckham admits he is frustrated about missing out on United's run-in as well as fearing for his World Cup chances.

"Everyone is mentioning England but I'm also missing a Champions League semifinal and that for me at the moment is the upsetting thing," he said.

Beckham said he had not been surprised by the widespread coverage of the injury, although he said seeing a giant picture of his foot on the front page of a national newspaper was "a bit weird".

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