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By ESPN Staff

Cech optimistic for swift return

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has played down fears he could miss the rest of the season - and even miss Euro 2008.

The 25-year-old suffered his second serious facial injury in the space of two years in a training-ground clash with team-mate Tal Ben-Haim on Sunday.

Cech immediately required surgery on his face and, while Chelsea boss Avram Grant suggested he would be back in action in two weeks, many reports have suggested he could be sidelined for much longer.

'I hope I will be back in the goal soon,' said Cech, who hopes the timescale outlined by his coach proves accurate.

'I will have to wait for what the doctor says.

'I cannot do anything right now, two days after the anaesthetic. The club said I should be back in two weeks, so we shall see. I believe it will be so.'

Some reports suggested the treatment could continue for as long as six months and Cech admitted: 'If I were a normal patient, it could be like that.

'But as I have to play football, we are trying to find a way to protect the wound - to be back as soon as possible.

'My face is sewn, so we must find a way to protect it from tearing again.

'Once this problem is solved I will restart training. But how long it will take, I do not know.'

Cech, who was back in training after an ankle problem, confirmed the incident had been nothing more than an unfortunate accident and insisted he did not blame Israeli defender Ben-Haim.

He said: 'We were both trying to stop the goal.

'He wanted to kick the ball away and I dived for it at the same time.

'We hit each other and he tore my face - it was a coincidence.

'When we dived for the ball it was important the goal was not conceded.

'There are 50 such situations during every training session - it was simply bad luck.

'It is worse for me that after a long problem with my ankle I had restarted training and could finally play.

'This season has been awful as regards the injuries: I get rid of one, another comes.

'I spend all the day in the training centre, I try to regain fitness to be ready to return when something happens again. It is frustrating.

'I thought that I was over the worst, I had problems with my back, calf muscle, side, ligaments in the ankle and now this.

'But maybe I will have a break from injuries for some time now.'

Cech reportedly needed 50 stitches in an operation lasting two hours, but he admitted he was not sure of the exact number.

He said: 'I do not know exactly (how many stitches), I have not asked.

'For me the result is important and it is superb. The plastic surgeon did a great job.

'It looks like a small external injury.

'It cannot be compared to the state I looked before the operation.'

Cech confirmed he has a scar 'from my lip to the chin on the right side of my face' but is happy with how the surgery went.

'When I came home, my wife and daughter Adelka recognised I was OK,' he said.

'I eat normally and I can eat everything, (though) I'm only speaking with half of my mouth.

'The scar will remain, but should be minimal.'

For some the incident brought back unpleasant memories of another Cech injury - when he suffered a depressed fracture of the skull after a clash with Reading's Stephen Hunt last season.

But the man himself insisted similar thoughts had not crossed his mind.

He said: 'No, I was just thinking about how I would look.'

One man especially concerned for Cech's health was Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner, who is desperate to have his number one fit for Euro 2008.

'He called me 10 times,' said Cech.

'I spoke to him and also Honza Stejskal, the goalkeepers' coach, called me - also some of my team-mates.

'I believe that a way will be found for me to return as soon as possible.

'It should not be such a big problem.'