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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beckham set for bench in Old Trafford return

LONDON (AP) David Beckham returns to Old Trafford as an AC Milan player in the Champions League, although he may have to make do with a place on the bench Wednesday as the Italian club tries to overturn Manchester United's 3-2 first leg advantage.

News photo
Return trip: AC Milan's David Beckham may find himself on the bench when he returns to Old Trafford against Manchester United on Wednesday. AP PHOTO

The former England captain, who is on loan to Milan from his Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy, is expected to get a warm reception from United fans having spent the first 10 years of his career there before departing in 2003.

But Milan coach Leonardo hinted that he might have to wait to make an appearance and that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar might start wide on the right.

"It isn't easy adapting to a new position," Leonardo said after Milan drew 0-0 with AS Roma on Saturday. "Huntelaar was very good on his side and had an excellent game.

"We really believe (we can win) and I always have full confidence in my team. Clearly in Manchester we have to play as we know how to and not rush to try and create chances."

Milan is also likely to be without Brazilian striker Pato, who has a hamstring injury, while United will probably miss top scorer Wayne Rooney.

Rooney missed Saturday's 1-0 victory at Wolves which took United to the top of the Premier League. Scorer of 28 league and cup goals this season, Rooney has been in top form and scored twice in the victory at Milan. But he has picked up a knee injury and United looked far less impressive without him on the weekend.

"Rooney is very doubtful for the Milan game unfortunately," said manager Alex Ferguson. "It's one of these bad bits of luck you get. The Wembley pitch (in England's 3-1 victory over Egypt on Wednesday) has just killed him.

"I was pleased with how (Dimitar) Berbatov did against Wolves though and I'll probably start with him on Wednesday."

While United may be without Rooney, Arsenal is likely to miss captain and midfielder Cesc Fabregas against FC Porto on Tuesday as it attempts to turn around a 2-1 first leg deficit.

"Cesc felt a tight hamstring, but it had not gone away," Wenger said after Saturday's 3-1 victory over Burnley which put Arsenal closer to the league title it hasn't won since 2004. "He has a little chance for Tuesday. It depends how big the gamble is — I am ready to take the gamble. But, if there is more than a 50 percent chance his hamstring goes, I will not take it."

In Tuesday's other game, Fiorentina needs only a 1-0 victory at home to Bayern Munich after the Italians lost the first leg 2-1. But they go into the game having lost 2-1 to Juventus in Serie A.

"The match didn't go well and some of the players were already thinking about the match with Bayern Munich," said coach Cesare Prandelli. "Now we have to think about Tuesday. It is the most important game of the season."

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