Football: Operation rules out Ronaldo for five months

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The Independent Online
RONALDO LEFT hospital yesterday and was told to take his time coming back to the game. The Brazilian underwent an operation on on a damaged knee tendon on Tuesday at the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in Paris. Doctors say he will need four to five months of rest and recuperation.

The striker's clu,b Internazionale, had previously been told that Ronaldo would need a maximum of three months to recover, but the club's chairman, Massimo Moratti, has now said he would not be rushed back into action.

"As soon as I speak to him I will tell him not to hurry things and just to concentrate on the best possible recovery," Moratti said, adding that there is no dispute over the amount of time Ronaldo was expected be out.

"I think it is not only prudent but intelligent to give the maximum amount of time necessary for recovery," he added. "It doesn't worry me, it is fundamental that Ronaldo will be feeling very good when he does return."

Ronaldo suffered the latest in a series of injury setbacks in Inter's 6-0 Italian Serie A win over Lecce on 21 November. He twisted his right leg and partially ruptured his knee-cap tendon after catching his foot in a divot on the rain-soaked San Siro pitch.

The Brazilian has been hampered by knee problems over the past two seasons and has never fully recaptured the breathtaking form he showed during his first season in Italy in 1997-98, following his move from Barcelona.

The Inter coach, Marcello Lippi, says the operation and lay-off could finally end Ronaldo's fitness problems. "I hope this is the final act of this year and a half of suffering," he said. "The operation should have finally resolved everything, and we hope to have a completely new player at the end of his recovery."

Ronaldo played only 11 full matches for Inter last season and has played for just 90 minutes in only two of the club's 11 games this season.

Moratti said Inter would not be going into the transfer market to find a replacement for the Brazilian as he believes they have enough strength in depth to cope with Ronaldo's absence. Lippi has relied on the Chilean Ivan Zamorano to partner Christian Vieri in attack for most of this season and has Roberto Baggio and the Uruguayan, Alvaro Recoba, as cover.