Russia’s hopes for a successful FIFA World Cup™ campaign suffered a serious blow with captain Roman Shirokov ruled out because he has failed to recover from a knee ligament injury.
Russia coach Fabio Capello said the 32-year-old midfielder, scorer of 12 goals in 41 international appearances since making his debut in 2008, will have to undergo knee surgery in Finland next week.
“On Monday Shirokov will fly to Finland to undergo knee surgery there,” Capello told a news conference after the 2-0 win over Morocco in their World Cup warm up match.
“Shirokov is a very important member of Russia’s squad but I hope that the rest of the players will be able to perform at their best level in Brazil anyway.”
Capello, who has guided Russia to their first World Cup finals since 2002, said Rubin Kazan midfielder Pavel Mogilevets will replace Shirokov in the squad.
“Mogilevets will replace Shirokov in our squad but we still have time before 15 June to make final changes in the squad’s line-up,” he said.
Shirokov suffered the injury in April in the Russian Premier League match between FC Krasnodar, where he has been on loan from Zenit St. Petersburg, and Lokomotiv Moscow.
He missed both of the tune-up matches with Slovakia and Norway but was able to train with the rest of the squad on Thursday before suffering a relapse.
Capello, who will be bidding to improve on his 2010 showing with England where he took them to the last 16, said his team would play one more warm-up match, against Sao Paulo state champions Ituano on 11 June.
Russia will open their World Cup campaign against Korea Republic on 18 June.
Capello’s side have been drawn in Group H alongisde Belgium and Algeria.