PREVIEW-Soccer-Milan's Beckham poised for Serie A bow

MILAN Thu Jan 8, 2009 9:12am GMT

MILAN Jan 8 (Reuters) - David Beckham's whirlwind visit to Serie A starts at AS Roma on Sunday (1930 GMT) with the on-loan AC Milan midfielder likely to at least make the bench.

The 33-year-old, who has joined from Los Angeles Galaxy for two months to boost his England hopes, is pushing for a starting spot after playing the first half of the 1-1 friendly draw against Hamburg in Dubai on Tuesday.

Steady rather than spectacular, Beckham was nonetheless pleased with his fitness levels having not played competitively since the end of the U.S. regular season in October.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid player, who has 107 England caps and is just one behind Bobby Moore's outfield record, is adamant he will return to Galaxy in March but is hugely excited about playing in Serie A.

"I'm available to play in my first match of the Italian championship in a Milan shirt. It will be very emotional for me, whether I play or not," he told reporters.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is giving little away about whether Beckham will start for third-placed Milan, who return from the midseason break nine point behinds leaders Inter Milan.

"He has dynamism, tactical intelligence and quality," Ancelotti said.

"He plays for the team and is always involved in moves. He is still not in top physical shape but his contribution can be useful for us even if he is not in the best condition."

TOTTI OUT

Roma captain Francesco Totti, the closest Italy has to Beckham in terms of lifestyle and media attention, misses out with a thigh injury which will hamper last season's runners-up as they bid to climb out of midtable.

Milan are flying straight to Rome from Dubai rather than going home first given the large amounts of snow which have fallen in the north of Italy.

Training sessions at many clubs have been hit by the wintry conditions and some weekend matches could be in jeopardy.

Inter entertain Cagliari on Saturday (1930) without suspended right back Maicon, who scored both goals in their fortunate 2-1 win at Siena last time out on Dec. 20.

Second-placed Juventus, six behind Inter after 17 games, host Siena on Sunday (1400) with Gianluigi Buffon one of several players back from injury.

The Italy goalkeeper played the first half of a 1-1 friendly draw with Monaco on Tuesday but said he will only make himself available for competitive games if he feels 100 percent fit.

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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