Spain defender Carlos Puyol looks certain to miss Euro 2012 after saying it will be "impossible" for him to recover from injury in time.
It was announced yesterday that the Barcelona captain will be out for around six weeks, due to a knee injury that requires arthroscopic surgery.
At a news conference today, when asked if he would be fit for this summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine, the 34-year-old was pessimistic.
"To be honest it's going to be very tough, but I have to wait and see how the operation goes," he said.
"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."
Puyol experienced discomfort following Saturday's 4-0 defeat of Espanyol, and the injury means he will miss the last Primera League game of the season against Real Betis and Pep Guardiola's final game in charge - the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 25.
If Puyol was selected for Euro 2012, and returned on schedule in six weeks time, he would miss all of Spain's group games.
The winners of Euro 2008 play Italy on June 10, Republic of Ireland on June 14 and Croatia on June 18 - a day before Puyol would be due to return.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, who is due to announce a provisional squad on May 15, was quoted by Marca as saying yesterday: "That's football, it's an extremely significant loss for us.
"Quite apart from whether or not it disrupts my plans, he is a charismatic lad and very important (to the team) and was only a step away from making his 100th appearance."
Del Bosque, who must confirm his final party of players on May 27, added: "He has been on great form, it's a shame."
The news will be a major blow as Spain look to become the first team to win three major tournaments in a row, having won in 2008 and then the World Cup in 2010. There is also a major doubt over striker David Villa.Reuse content