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Injury rules Beckham out of World Cup

David Beckham was this morning waking up to the realisation that his World Cup dream -- and possibly his career -- was over.

Beckham was said to be flying to Finland today for an operation to repair a major Achilles injury incurred during AC Milan's 1-0 Serie A victory over Chievo last night.

Beckham sustained the injury without coming into contact with anyone else, limping to the sidelines for treatment in Milan's 1-0 win, before later being driven away sporting crutches and fighting tears at the thought that an appearance at a fourth World Cup was over. Both England boss Fabio Capello and his assistant Franco Baldini were on the phone to offer their best wishes for Beckham to make a full recovery, knowing they could write the 34-year-old out of their plans for South Africa.

Rossoneri coach Leonardo expressed sympathy for Beckham. "David understood immediately that he had torn his Achilles tendon," Leonardo said. "I cannot enjoy this evening considering this serious injury."

Clarence Seedorf also found it hard to celebrate his match-winning strike knowing Beckham could have a long injury lay-off, saying: "It's always ugly to be out because of an injury. We will all need to give everything we have." While Beckham will now concentrate on overcoming an injury that threatens his career, Capello must now make alternative plans for the summer.

Capello has suddenly seen his right-sided options start to dwindle, with Aaron Lennon nowhere near a comeback from a groin injury that has plagued him since December.

The two fitness problems should bolster Theo Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips' chances of a call-up.

Capello also knows James Milner could fill in if necessary, although the Aston Villa man lacks the pace required to be a first-choice wide-man.