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May 8, 2012

Puyol facing fitness fight

Spain's Carles Puyol is set to miss Euro 2012 as he is to undergo knee surgery that will rule him out for up to six weeks.

Puyol, 34, suffered the injury to his right knee in Barcelona's 4-0 win over Espanyol at the weekend, and reports on Tuesday suggested he would likely have to go under the knife to cure the issue.

Barca have now confirmed Puyol is poised for surgery, and the defender will certainly miss the club's forthcoming Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 25.

The centre-back also faces a race against time to be fit for Spain's defence of their European crown as they line up against Italy, Ireland and Croatia in Group C at Euro 2012, with their first match versus the Azzurri on June 10.

Puyol has won 99 caps since making his international debut in 2000 and was part of the Spain squad that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

Coach Vicente Del Bosque has admitted the loss of Puyol is a major blow for the defending champions.

Del Bosque told AS: "It's a serious setback, he's a considerable loss not only for what he gives on the pitch, but for what he contributes to the team (off it).

"It's also a shame that this happened when he was on the verge of playing 100 caps, but hopefully he can get there. He was having a great end to the season.''

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