Shevchenko remains injury doubt

BY foxsports • June 19, 2012

Andriy Shevchenko remains a doubt for Ukraine's decisive Group D match against England at the European Championship because of a knee injury, despite the striker completing training on Monday.

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin rated the chances of his captain being fit to play at ''50-50'' and said he would only decide shortly before kickoff on Tuesday.

''We are doing everything possible to make him play,'' Blokhin said through an interpreter. ''It's very hard to say. We still have 24 hours ... If he is not able to play, that would be a great loss.''

Shevchenko, who scored both goals in his team's opening 2-1 win over Sweden, had sat out Sunday's training session because of the injury. His knee had taken knocks in his previous two group matches, against the Swedes and France.

Shevchenko told reporters on Monday that his left knee was ''getting better.''

Co-host Ukraine must beat England to advance to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012. Any other result would send England and France through.

Blokhin said he had ''other options'' in case his captain were to be ruled out, but did not elaborate.

If Shevchenko failed his fitness test, Blokhin was expected to opt for Marko Devic up front alongside Andriy Voronin, with Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka on the flanks.

England coach Roy Hodgson called Shevchenko ''a world-class player'' that Blokhin will be keen to get on the pitch.

''He'll be key to his team,'' Hodgson said. ''We have a lot of respect for him, of course. We have players who were his clubmates at Chelsea and know him not only as a player but as a person as well.''

Shevchenko, the 2004 European Footballer of the Year will end his international career after Euro 2012.

Ukraine's all-time top scorer with 48 goals in 110 matches, Shevchenko is still a key player for Blokhin. Not only does he score goals, but he is also a leader to a partly young and inexperienced national team.

''We don't have as many stars as France, Spain or Italy,'' Blokhin said. ''So his role is very big, especially in the attacking line. There probably isn't such good a striker anywhere in Ukraine.''

The 35-year-old Shevchenko's club career slipped into decline after leaving Milan for Chelsea in 2006. For the past three seasons, he has been playing for his first club, Dynamo Kiev.

Shevchenko has been struggling with persistent back and knee problems in recent years. He wasn't even sure of being fit for the tournament, and said before Euro 2012 that he wasn't able to play three full matches a week anymore.

So far at Euro 2012, Shevchenko has only missed the last nine minutes of the Sweden game.


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