Lampard rejects placenta healer

Frank Lampard is the highest-profile English player to have sought an injury cure with the mysterious horse placenta healer of Belgrade but it emerged yesterday that the Chelsea midfielder walked out after an hour's treatment with Marijana Kovacevic

Lampard visited her in Serbia on Friday, the latest in a line of Premier League players to seek the woman who uses fluid derived from horse placenta to massage the afflicted areas. However, after an hour with Kovacevic he decided her approach was not for him and decided to return to England immediately.

The 31-year-old is expected to make an earlier-than-expected return from injury against Arsenal tomorrow having torn a muscle in his thigh training with England on 12 November. However, it is understood that his recovery from an injury, initially thought to have ruled him out for six weeks, has had nothing to do with Kovacevic's unorthodox approach to healing.

He was accompanied to Belgrade by the club doctor Bryan English who has a reputation as one of the best in the business. Many of the clubs whose players have requested that they visit Kovacevic have kept an open mind because of her popularity among the players. Chelsea, mindful that arguably their most important playing asset was being placed in the hands of an unknown, sent Dr English as well.

Kovacevic worked on Lampard's injury – although without the horse placenta fluid – and at the end of it recommended her usual course of three days and three two-hour sessions. Rather than take her up on the offer, Lampard and Dr English decided that they would return to England.

Kovacevic has worked with Robin van Persie, Glen Johnson, Albert Riera, Yossi Benayoun and many of Serbia's top players. Recently she has been plagued by suggestions that Belgrade officials have tried to shut her down and that she is being investigated by tax authorities. Nevertheless her status among players as a healing guru appears to be undimmed.

The Espanyol captain Ivan de la Pena has recently completed a treatment in Belgrade with Kovacevic and there have been rumours in Serbia that she might treat Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, both of whom missed Barcelona's Champions League game against Internazionale.