Spain defender Carles Puyol,
described by coach Vicente del Bosque as "part of the team's
soul", believes it will be impossible for him to recover from
knee surgery in time to play in the European Championships
starting next month.
"To be honest it's going to be very tough, but I have to
wait and see how the operation goes," the Barcelona centre-back
told a news conference on Wednesday when asked whether he would
be fit for the tournament.
"But I think it's impossible because when you come out of an
operation there is a recovery period and I believe that those
who are in better shape should go," added the 34-year-old.
The loss of the talismanic Puyol, who is hugely respected by
team-mates and opponents alike, is a significant setback for the
world and European champions, who begin the defence of their
continental title against Italy on June 10.
His absence will likely mean that coach Vicente del Bosque
will deploy Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos alongside Barca's Gerard
Pique in central defence, with Javi Martinez of Athletic Bilbao
"It's one of the worst pieces of news we could have expected
but we have to deal with it and find solutions, although it
won't be easy," Del Bosque was quoted as saying in As sports
"Puyi is a titan and his absence means Spain is losing part
of its soul," added the former Real Madrid coach, who is due to
announce his final squad on May 27.
"We are talking about a player who is an example on and off
the pitch and is key in both matches and at training camps."
Barca announced on Tuesday that Puyol had sustained an
injury to his right knee that required arthroscopic surgery and
would sideline him for around six weeks.
The shaggy-haired centre-back damaged the knee in last
weekend's La Liga match at home to Espanyol and is due to have
the operation on Saturday.
He will be unavailable for the King's Cup final against
Athletic Bilbao on May 25, the club said.
Puyol, one of the team captains, has been a reliable
presence in the Spanish back line for more than a decade, making
99 appearances and scoring the winning goal in the 1-0
semi-final victory over Germany at the 2010 World Cup.
"I am not saying I am retiring or not retiring from the
national team," Puyol told reporters at Wednesday's news
"Right now the operation is the important thing and later
we'll see. It's not only my decision," he added.
Spain also face Ireland and Croatia in Group C at the
tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
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