Champions League

Leonardo won't promise Becks start

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AC Milan coach Leonardo is not promising David Beckham a place in his starting line-up at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

Beckham revisits his former home as a player for the first time since his departure for Real Madrid in 2003, when Milan look to create a bit of history by overturning a 3-2 first-leg deficit against Manchester United.

Yet the 34-year-old has not begun a game for the seven-times winners since the encounter with Sir Alex Ferguson's men at the San Siro three weeks ago.


Leonardo was happy to pay tribute to Beckham's input for Milan but, asked whether that extends to a spot on the pitch, he rather skirted round the issue.

"For Beckham, it is obviously something special to have the opportunity to play against Manchester United given his history at the club," he said.

"When we saw the draw we knew it would be an unbelievable situation for him.

"But knowing David, and his attitude, I am sure he can cope. And independent of that, he is very important for the group as a whole and we are always grateful for his presence."

One man who will definitely be involved after recovering from a minor knee injury is Wayne Rooney.

The 28-goal United striker has been in explosive form recently, winning plaudits from Ferguson and Fabio Capello amongst others.

But it seems the admiration extends far beyond these shores, with the Italians of the same view.

"Rooney is considered to be a star player on the world stage," said Milan skipper Massimo Ambrosini.

"He is better than in the past. He has improved and is now a complete player. He is one of the best in the world at the moment."

Ambrosini's words were echoed by coach Leonardo, who must try and find a way of stopping United's talisman, whilst retaining enough attacking invention in his own side to help them become the first team to beat the Red Devils in a two-legged game after losing the opener on home soil.

"Rooney is a fixed point of reference in the United team," said the Brazilian.

"It is incredible to see the way he has developed, grown and matured as a player.

"Maybe it has had something to do with Cristiano Ronaldo leaving because it meant he needed to step up."

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