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Gullit wary of pushing Beckham fitness

Los Angeles Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit will leave it up to David Beckham to decide whether he plays a full game against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

Galaxy arrived in the New Zealand capital today following their 5-3 friendly defeat by Sydney FC on Tuesday.

Gullit and Beckham fronted a press conference along with Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos, coach Ricki Herbert and captain Ross Aloisi.

Beckham played 90 minutes against Sydney, but with promotional work as well as playing commitments that also included the Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia at Wembley last week it could prove a bridge too far doing the same time in Wellington.

'I think that David himself can also indicate when the battery's gone,' Gullit said.

'He's only human, we can't ask for him too much. If he gives me a sign that it's enough then I will take him off.'

Beckham was hopeful of not disappointing what is expected to be a capacity crowd of 34,500 in Wellington. He took a knock to his left ankle during the match against Sydney but played on.

'It's fine, I twisted it a little bit,' Beckham said of the ankle injury.

'I'm hoping that I can play the whole game, because I enjoyed playing the whole game in Sydney. We'll have to wait and see, but I feel good.'

Beckham was enthused about arriving in Wellington, particularly the Powhiri welcoming performance the team received at Wellington Airport.

'Being honoured by the welcome we received today is incredible and something that no player and no person would miss,' Beckham said.

'We're very proud to be flying the flag for our countries and the Galaxy, especially being in a country also that is notoriously big for rugby. Hopefully that will change for maybe just one day where the football will be more popular - but we're looking forward to it and can't wait for the game now.'

Galaxy's match against Sydney, despite being billed as a friendly, featured a sending off and some late challenges.

Beckham said he expected another competitive match against Phoenix, despite the fact the home side will be playing their second game in as many days. Tomorrow they play Adelaide United in the Hyundai A-League.

'I enjoyed that game the other night,' Beckham said.

'I'm sure if you asked any competitive sportsman there is really no friendly, and it proved it the other night.

'Everyone was talking about it being a friendly game and it turned into a little bit more which is nice at times. But we're competitive, we want to win, and we'll be taking the game seriously (against Phoenix) but also with a bit of fun because I think it's important that players don't get injured.

'We're looking forward to the game and we're looking forward to enjoying New Zealand as well.