Puyol says playing at Euro 2012 is 'impossible'
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -Barcelona defender Carles Puyol believes it will be "impossible'' to recover from knee surgery in time to help Spain defend its European Championship title next month.
Puyol will undergo surgery on his right knee Saturday and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks. The 34-year-old center back will miss Barcelona's Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 25 and looks set to be left out of Euro 2012, which starts on June 8.
But Puyol refused to rule out adding to his 99 appearances for the World Cup champions.
"The only idea in my mind is to have the surgery and recover as quickly as possible. I'm sure everything will turn out well and I'll be back playing again soon,'' Puyol said on Wednesday. "I'm not sure if this will be my last Euros but what I'm sure of is that I want to retire on the field, not in the operating room.''
Puyol said he would make a decision on his international future next season.
"This is like bringing your car in for a checkup,'' Puyol said. "But I think it's impossible that I recover in time.''
Coach Vicente del Bosque said Puyol's absence will be difficult to cover.
"He's one of our captains, one of the team's leaders. 'Puyi' is a titan and with his absence, Spain loses a piece of its soul,'' Del Bosque said.
Puyol has played in all major championships since the 2002 World Cup, having made his debut in 2000. His absence deals another blow to the defending champions' squad, with striker David Villa also in doubt. Spain's all-time leading scorer has yet to play since undergoing leg surgery in December.
Del Bosque will have to find a new partner for Barcelona center back Gerard Pique in the middle of Spain's defense, with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos the most likely substitute. Athletic Bilbao's Javi Martinez is another option.
Spain opens Group C against Italy on June 10 before playing Ireland and Croatia during the June 8-July 1 tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Del Bosque will announce his 23-man squad for the tournament on May 27.
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