David Beckham has targeted an earlier-than-expected return to action with the Los Angeles Galaxy on September 11.
The England midfielder, 35, has not played a competitive game since tearing his left Achilles tendon while playing for AC Milan in March, an injury which ended his hopes of playing for England in a fourth World Cup.
He has undergone a gruelling rehabilitation programme and has now targeted some involvement in the Galaxy's home Major League Soccer clash with the Columbus Crew next week.
He told Galaxy's website: "The doctors' original (return) date was October 1, but I always kind of said I want to be ready before then. 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.''
Beckham, who returned to training with his Galaxy team-mates on August 11, insisted retirement was never on his mind at any point from the moment the injury occurred.
He said: "When you first have an injury like this and realise how serious an injury it is, you worry that you're not going to get back to playing top-flight soccer. But that probably was in my head for only about 10 seconds.''