Injured Nihat flies home as Turkish injury crisis grows

TURKISH striker Nihat Kahveci has been ruled out of the rest of Euro 2008 with a thigh injury he picked up in the quarter-final win over Croatia.

Nihat had already been ruled out of Turkey’s semi-final clash with Germany in Basle on Wednesday, and it has now been revealed he will play no further part in the tournament.

The Villarreal forward has returned home to Spain after suffering the injury three minutes from the end of extra-time in Friday’s clash, which Fatih Terim’s men went on to win on penalties.

The 28-year-old is Turkey’s joint top scorer in the competition with two goals — he scored the equaliser and the winner in his side’s dramatic 3-2 win over the Czech Republic, which qualified Turkey for the knockout stages.

Nihat’s absence is another blow to Turkey, whose squad is already depleted through suspension and injury.

Servet Cetin, Tumer Metin and Emre Belozoglu are all injured, while Emre Gungor has already been ruled out of the tournament.

Terim had only 15 available outfield players for the Croatia clash, three of whom will be banned for the match against Germany after picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament.

Goalkeeper Volkan Demirel will find out today if an appeal against his suspension has been successful.

Indeed, such is the extent of Turkey’s injury crisis that UEFA officials could be forced into an emergency meeting if Terim asks to call up a replacement player.

The former AC Milan boss refused to call up anyone when replacements were allowed, but should he need to now then a request would have to be made to UEFA.

“If a team, for instance, only has eight players, then there will probably be an emergency meeting but at this stage we have not had any requests,” said UEFA director of communications William Gaillard.

The good news for Terim is midfielder Mehmet Aurelio returns from suspension.

Terim’s selection problems mean Colin Kazim-Richards is likely to feature, giving the London-born forward a chance to be a make his mark on the international stage.

“There is always a chance to be a hero but if we win the cup I won’t mind if it is someone else,” said the Fenerbahce forward.

“You have ambition and you want to be the hero and you want to score the goals but it is also a team game.”

The severity of Terim’s selection concerns has led him to consider playing reserve goalkeeper Tolga Zengin as an outfield player.

“He could come on towards the end as a sub as last man or a centre-forward,” Terim said.

“We can’t allow ourselves the luxury of players choosing where they want to play.

“We have shown several times already that we can achieve the impossible. I have faith in my team and in our ability to reach the final.”


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