David Beckham has his focus trained on a September 11 return from an Achilles tendon tear which has kept him out of action since March.
The English midfielder suffered the injury on loan with AC Milan, missing out on his chance to play in the 2010 World Cup. Now back to training, the Los Angeles Galaxy's 'Designated Player' hopes to beat the estimated October return date and play against the Columbus Crew in a week and a half.
"The doctors' original date was October 1, but I always kind of said I want to be ready before then," Beckham told reporters on Thursday.
"I'll keep my fingers crossed and hopefully will play in part of the game here against Columbus. I'll be on the bench, and hopefully I'll get on the field for 15-20 minutes. That's what I'm looking at."
The 35-year-old likened his arduous return from injury to pre-season training.
"At the moment, you have good days and you have bad days," he said.
"You wake up with a lot more pain in your body when you're in pre-season. I have to do it because I need to get as close to match fitness as possible.
"It's a bit difficult because when you don't play in games; that's where you get the real fitness from. But I'm doing what I can in the gym and what I can on the field, just trying to get strength back in my leg.
"It kind of kicks you up the backside when you realise you can't do certain things. Working out was something I've done for the last 25 years, and to not being able to do it was tough for me."
Once he recovers completely from the initial injury, Beckham will have to overcome the mental obstacles his six-month layoff has instilled.
"When you do go through a trauma like this, an injury like this," he said, "there's always going to be that thing in the back of your mind saying, 'The last time I did that motion was when it actually snapped.'
"Cutting and turning and pushing off is still difficult for me, but that's going to come in time."