Euro 2012: 10 Injury Doubts for European Championships
Euro 2012 is fast approaching, and excitement is beginning to build. For some players, however, the primary emotion right now is worry, not anticipation.
Others, including some pretty big names, are injury doubts for the European Championships this summer.
With that in mind, here are 10 players who may or may not be able to partake in Europe's footballing extravaganza this summer.
Antonio Cassano had to have minor heart surgery back in November but has been given medical clearance to begin playing again.
However, he is going to be hard-pressed to get back to fitness in time for Euro 2012; he has played just 10 minutes of football this year, and there are only six Serie A games left for him to get himself match fit.
With Guiseppe Rossi definitely out of the tournament and Mario Balotelli's discipline continuing to cause problems, Cassano may find himself on the plane even if he isn't up to full fitness.
Spain's David Villa may or may not return to action before the end of the La Liga season, but with just five games left, his return does not seem to be imminent.
Much like Antonio Cassano, he is going to struggle to get up to fitness, and with an injury as serious as a broken leg, he cannot return until he is 100-percent fit; rushing things could potentially aggravate the injury, setting him back months.
Spain will be praying that the Barcelona striker is ready to go for Euro 2012; he has been key to their success over the last few years and, with Fernando Torres still short on form, they could really use the 30-year-old.
His record for Spain is more than impressive—53 goals in 82 appearances is enough to make even the hardiest of defences nervous.
Erik Pieters, PSV's left-back, recently injured his ankle and has been ruled out for the rest of the domestic season.
Whether or not he can recover from that injury in time for the tournament this summer remains to be seen.
If Pieters does not manage to recover in time, he will be sorely missed—he is the Netherlands' first-choice left-back.
The 23-year-old could well be plying his trade in the Premier League next season, possibly with Newcastle. Good performances this summer, if he does play, could push up his value as well as his earning power.
Shevchenko, now aged 35, is not the player he once was, but he is still a quality footballer and his experience would be invaluable to the Ukrainian squad this summer.
With an international career that has spanned 17 years and 105 appearances, Ukrainian fans will want to give Shevchenko a proper send-off as the Eastern Europeans play at home this summer.
Germany's goal-scoring machine is currently out of action due to a thigh injury. Lazio hope he will be back in time for the final two games of the season, but his recovery is going slower than expected.
Klose's record for Germany, 63 goals to date, is not to be laughed at. He makes the most of every chance he gets and brings a great deal of experience to a German side that is relatively young.
If he does not recover in time or is not fit enough to play all that much at the Euros, he will be sorely missed.
Jack Rodwell looks set to miss out on the Euro 2012 fun after recently aggravating a hamstring injury he was in the process of recovering from.
There is still a chance the Everton midfielder could recover in time to play, but it seems unlikely. He is not guaranteed a place in the squad even if he is fit, and a lot could depend on who is chosen to take charge of the England squad next month.
If Rodwell does fail to recover in time for Euro 2012, he may still be fit to play as part of Team Great Britain at the Olympics later in the summer, and he would certainly be an asset.
Greece's star player, Sotiris Ninis, has recently returned from a six-month lay-off that occurred due to a bad knee injury suffered while playing for the national side against Israel.
Ninis should be ready to go this summer, but knee injuries have a habit of recurring. The Greeks will be desperate to have their play-maker fit for the tournament, and fans will be hoping that a good balance is found between playing time and caution in the remaining games of the domestic season.
Ninis will be playing for Parma next season and could well find himself at one of Europe's biggest clubs in the not too distant future. Playing at the Euros could certainly boost his reputation.
Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev has had to undergo surgery on a broken toe and looks set to be out of action until just before the start of Euro 2012.
The 21-year-old is a very promising player, and the European Championships would have been the ideal platform for him to make his reputation.
It remains to be seen whether or not CSKA Moscow's star will be fit in time for the tournament, but luckily he is young enough to feature in plenty more tournaments in the years to come if he does miss out this time around.
England's Darren Bent has just restarted running after suffering an ankle injury earlier this season. However, he is still a fair way away from being ready to return to action and is unlikely to be fit in time for the European Championships.
England fans will be hoping he does manage to recover in time for the Euros this summer, as Wayne Rooney will be missing the opening two games, a loss that leaves England a little short on proven goal scorers up front.
Top German star Bastian Schweinsteiger has been suffering from some serious ankle problems this season.
The 27-year-old brings a lot of experience to a young German midfield; he has 90 caps and will have been an important part of Joachim Low's plans for Euro 2012.
Schweinsteiger lasted just an hour against Real Madrid earlier this week and is clearly not up to full fitness yet, something that will be worrying German fans.
He is needed by Bayern—they have a Champions League semi-final and a domestic cup to win—but he also needs to be well-rested and fully over the the ankle injury that has limited him to just 19 Bundesliga games this season if he is to contribute for the national side this summer.