(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Israel national team was still coming to terms with the news of Yossi Benayoun’s injury as it continued its preparations on Wednesday evening for the crucial Euro 2012 qualifier against Croatia at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Saturday night.
The Israeli Football Association announced on Tuesday night that the Chelsea midfielder had been diagnosed with a torn Achilles’ tendon and may be sidelined for “several months.”
Benayoun had been included in the Israel squad for its two upcoming
European Championship qualifiers despite sustaining an injury in
Chelsea’s Carling Cup loss to Newcastle on September 22.
However, an MRI on Tuesday revealed that the injury was worse than had
been thought, meaning the 30-year-old Israel captain will not only miss
the qualifiers against Croatia on Saturday and Greece next Tuesday, but
could also be out for up to six months.
“I didn’t expect this,” Benayoun said on Wednesday. “I came to Israel
with the intention of playing in the qualifiers, but I was stunned when I
was told the results of the test. Throughout my career I have never
been injured for more than two or three weeks, but sadly this is part of
the game and I need to accept it. I hope to come through this as
quickly as possible and return to the field.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Gili Vermut, who could take Benayoun’s place
in the lineup, believes the blue-and-white can overcome Croatia, even
without its best player.
“Benayoun’s absence is significant both on and off the field,” Vermut
said. “We need to show more maturity to make up for this. I have no
doubt that to reach the European Championships we need to beat big teams
at home, starting on Saturday.”