Polite applause as Becks makes his appearance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 March, 2008, 12:00am

Where a mob squealed uncontrollably nearly five years ago when David Beckham appeared with Real Madrid, this time around, the sight of his LA Galaxy team's bus pulling up to Hong Kong Stadium for training elicited a solitary, if well-timed, gasp.

The female fan - one of just a dozen camped outside the closed practice - would have been embarrassed to later discover that her dramatic wheeze was for naught. Beckham, who injured his right thigh during the Galaxy's game in Shanghai on Wednesday did not attend yesterday's practice and received treatment instead.

But not to worry. Beckham (pictured), the conspicuous drawcard for tomorrow's match between the Galaxy and a South China invitational team, said his injury was not of grave concern.

'It's nothing serious; I will be able to play on Sunday, that's not going to be a problem,' Beckham said at a press conference after the squad training session.

And while the television cameras still lined three rows deep into the crowded pool house at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the gasps were absent.

Beckham received the same polite introductory applause as the others in attendance, including Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit and midfielder Chris Klein.

There was one cheer, but it was quickly replaced by the slightest moment of silent awkwardness.

The 32-year-old centre of attention was not even seated in the centre seat and the photographers, aware of the name tags on the table, shifted right accordingly.

Though one questioner asked Beckham to contrast the nightlife of Hong Kong, Los Angeles and various European locales, the attention was focused more on Beckham's statement that he is fit for a likely 100th cap for England.

'I've played three games so far now and got through them all,' Beckham said, referring to the pre-season preparations which have included a tournament in Hawaii and this short East Asian tour.

'Fitness wise I'll be perfect, but it's about performing and hopefully I'll be able to do that.'

Beckham, who was left out of the England squad for last month's friendly match against Switzerland, said he believed himself to be still capable of holding his own at international level.

'I believe I can play for my country for a good few more years yet, that's just me being honest,' Beckham said.

Though tomorrow's game is expected to be far from a sell-out, the cameras continued to flash.