Marco Verratti injury blow for Italy

Italy midfielder Marco Verratti will miss Euro 2016 after undergoing surgery to repair a groin injury, his club Paris Saint-Germain confirmed last night.

Verratti’s appearances for Paris Saint-Germain have been severely restricted since suffering the injury in February and, while manager Laurent Blanc has continued to talk up his recovery, reports in Italy yesterday claimed the injury has flared up again this week, leading to speculation that the club might want the player to undergo surgery now in bid to have him fully fit for the start of next season.

Those reports have proven accurate with the 23-year-old now set to have an operation on May 16.

He will be sidelined for eight weeks during his recovery, making him unavailable for Antonio Conte’s squad in France.

Italy, along with Belgium and Sweden, are Ireland’s opponents in Group E and the absence of the influential 23-year-old — seen by many as the country’s successor to playmaker supreme Andreo Pirlo — would be a huge blow to Antonio Conte in what will be his final bow as Azzurri manager before he takes over at Chelsea.

The Italians, whom Martin O’Neill’s team will face in their final group game in Lille, had already suffered the setback of losing Verratti’s fellow midfielder Claudio Marchisio to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, while there continue to be doubts expressed about the fitness levels of the veteran Pirlo who is now playing his football with New York City in the USA.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will certainly miss the rest of the season and Euro 2016 after dislocating his knee in training.

The club announced that the reported Manchester City target had suffered the injury while training ahead of his side’s trip to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

German manager JoachimLow, who will name his preliminary squad for Euro 2016 on May 17, expressed his regret at losing Gundogan.

“Of course, this is a setback for all of us, but above all it is very bitter for Ilkay himself,” he said on the German Football Association’s website.

“After he was already forced to miss (the World Cup in) Brazil due to injury, now he’s going to miss a European Championship which he had such high hopes for.

“He was in great shape and with his dynamism, his vision and his strategic abilities, he played a central role in our plans. All of us from the national team wish him first and foremost a speedy return to action.”

Meanwhile, Harry Arter has assured Ireland manager Martin O’Neill he will be fit for championships.

An Achilles problem looked set to scupper his dreams of being on the plane to France.

But Arter, who lines-up for Bournemouth against West Bromwich Albion today, is successfully managing the problem and is dreaming of playing at the Euros.

He said: “It is an unbelievable tournament and three or four years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being considered.

“This is something I would never take for granted and I know I have to give my all and play to my full capacity to have a good chance.

“I knew I had to get in some games to have a good chance of being fit enough for the Euros.

“Martin O’Neill has made it clear he wants me to get in a few games and, hopefully, I can play in the last two friendlies.”


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