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By ESPN Staff
Feb 25, 2008

Croatia in shock after Eduardo injury

ZAGREB, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Arsenal striker Eduardo, who broke his leg on Saturday, is irreplaceable in Croatia's Euro 2008 team, coach Slaven Bilic was quoted as saying on Monday.

Bilic also told local media that Eduardo's recovery was paramount, over and above his loss to the Croatia team.

Eduardo, who turned 25 on Monday, broke his left leg in the third minute of Arsenal's Premier League match at Birmingham City and had surgery on Saturday night.

The Brazilian-born striker's recovery will take at least six months, doctors said.

'We have a solid choice of strikers, but he is irreplaceable,' said Bilic, whose team face co-hosts Austria, Germany and Poland in Group B at the tournament in June being staged jointly by Switzerland.

'However, I don't want to think now about our Euro 2008 performance without Eduardo. I just want him to be well and fully recover,' Bilic told the Vecernji List daily.

Croatian media widely reported the incident, which made prime-time news over the weekend.

Local dailies immediately sent reporters to London to follow the story and expressed shock over the horrendous tackle by Martin Taylor and regret at Eduardo having to miss Euro 2008.

'Taylor's brutal start (to the match) destroyed the ambition of a small but great soccer nation to hope for a European title,' an editorial in the Jutarnji List daily said.

'Eduardo's injury was like a death in the beautiful game.'

The daily said it was regretful that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had backtracked on his initial reaction to the injury when he said Taylor, who was sent off for the tackle, should be banned from football for life.

'Wenger was right in what he first said. It was not so nice to hear that he toned it down later,' the daily said.

In a poll published in the daily, 41 percent were said Taylor should be banned for life and 25 percent favoured a long suspension.

Eduardo sent an open letter from his London hospital to Croatian media saying: 'I wholeheartedly thank all fans, (national) team mates and the coach for the strong support they have shown.

'It means a lot to me. I really did not expect my injury to resound so strongly in the media.'