Euro 2012: Each Side's Biggest Injury Concern Heading into European Championship
There are less than two months before the opening matches of the 2012 UEFA European Championship in June.
All sixteen nations involved are getting their final preparations in order, but there are still red flags and wild cards left to sort out for their squads with the best players available from their nation.
As the clock continues to tick away, time can only tell who will be fit and will not as the expectations for this summer's tournament continue to grow.
Ivica Olić is Croatia's second most capped player currently in line for a summer trip to the Euros.
The veteran Bayern Munich attacker has spent much of the last two seasons with major injury problems and could be a concern going into the summer even if fit.
Striker Vaclav Sverkos looks to be completely ruled out for the summer despite hopes that he could return early for the summer Euros.
Sverkos ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament back in March while playing for his club Banik Ostrava against domestic opponents Sparta Prague.
Even though he only has 11 caps for his nation, Sverkos was believed to be set for a major part of the 2012 Euro campaign after having scored his first national team goal in the same competition back in 2008.
Denmark and Sunderland on-loan attacker Nicklas Bendtner is the primary injury worry of the Danish National team.
Bendtner is nursing a back injury back to health and continues to be a day to day problem as his fitness is looking more and more suspect according to the Daily Mail.
While finding a permanent manager to replace Fabio Capello is England's chief concern, the club are also dealing with several major injury issues.
Former England captain John Terry is still recovering from a knee injury and is hoping to return by mid-April after having had surgery in February as reported by Metro at that time.
Aston Villa's Darren Bent is also a worry with a late-April-to-early-May return from injury scheduled for him, leaving his possibility of full fitness a big question mark according to Caughtoffside.
France are yet to know whether 32-year-old FC Barcelona defender Eric Abidal will be available for their summer run at the Euros.
Just this second week of April, Abidal underwent liver transplant surgery and is now on his way to recovery.
However, it is still to early to know for sure if he is ruled out of a summer in Poland and the Ukraine.
The German national side continues to await news on the recovery of Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker.
Mertesacker is not expected to be back in training for the Gunners until late April and his national team manager Joachim Löw is concerned for this health according to an article from Fitness Article Hub following this summer's Euro 2012 injury updates.
Celtic FC and Greek national team striker Georgios Samaras is not injured at the moment, but should something happen to him Greece will be worried.
Samaras is the youngest of an aging veteran core of forwards for Greece and is expected to be the best chance at his nation getting on the board either by scoring or creating.
There is no doubt that without Samaras on the Greecian front line there is going to be a world of trouble for the typically defensive-minded nation.
Italy may be without striker Antonio Cassano as he recently had minor heart surgery.
Although he has returned to training and action with AC Milan, the time table for his return to full fitness still may not be in time for him to be completely ready for the summer.
Netherlands attacking midfielder Ibrahim Afellay looks to be back in action as he is expected to resume his club career with FC Barcelona his coming weekend after having missed seven months due to injury.
However, this will be a major concern as the 26-year-old is becoming more important every year as Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart get older, especially with Robben's latest injury scares.
A nagging injury could hamper Afellay's ability to provide cover when called upon if his fitness is not completely sound for the summer.
AC Milan's Mark van Bommel is also a concern for the summer as he is still sidelined in Italy.
Marcin Komorowski could miss Euro 2012 due to having to have knee surgery after suffering an injury this second week of April 2012.
According to reports from Poland Soccer Blog, the Terek Grzont defender from the Russian Premier League could now miss his chance to impress in the summer's biggest tournament.
Grenada midfielder Carlos Martins is a doubt for the summer squad after having been forced to withdraw from Portugal's friendly with Poland back on February 29th.
The 14-capped player has returned for action with Granada and earned an assist in their 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, April 11th.
However, Martins is now looking to be excluded in fear that his track record of repeated injury could cause him to re-injure himself either before or during the tournament.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland will be hoping to have a fully fit Richard Dunne to marshall their back line.
Dunne broke his collarbone during Aston Villa's English Premier League match with Manchester City on February 12, 2012.
Goal.com reports that the player is hoping for a late April return to action, but that is yet to be determined.
Russia currently have two injury worries.
The first being 32-year-old defender Sergei Ignashevich of CSKA Moscow. During a training session this Tuesday, he has been reported to have broken a toe in his right foot.
Secondly, 21-year-old rising star Alan Dzagoev also broke a toe ironically during the club's last match against Lokomotiv Moskva this past Saturday.
It is still up in the air as to whether David Villa will return in time for the summer Euros.
His broken leg suffered in December of 2011 looked as though it could rule him out of any chance at competing for Spain.
However, SI.com is one of several outlets that today, April 12, 2012, have announced that Villa is on schedule to be able to return in time for the tournament.
Johan Elmander remains the biggest injury threat for Sweden at the Euros.
After having already spent two periods of time out during the Turkish regular season with Galatasaray in both February and March, the former Bolton Wanderer is hoped to be able to remain healthy until the summer.
Elmander's teammate and strike partner, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, depends on him to draw opponents away to allow the AC Milan man to get better space in front of goal. Without him it will be a hindrance to their hopeful campaign.
Ukraine hope that their nation's greatest goal scorer in Andriy Shevchenko will be fit for his final major tournament with his country.
The 35-year-old continues to be frustrated by a nagging thigh injury, but is hopeful of making his comeback according to ESPNsoccernet.com.
Every nation is sure to be down to the wire to decide who will make the cut and who wont' when it is time to submit their final rosters for the 2012 European Championships.
Injuries to players are certain to have a major effect on most nations as strategies and formations are likely to shift depending on who makes it in and who is found unfit to play.
Who do you believe is the biggest injury concern of an nation heading into the summer?