Ukraine news

Shevchenko maintains fitness hope

March 28, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko is hoping to overcome his injury nightmare and end his international career on a high by appearing at Euro 2012 for the co-hosts.

Andriy Shevchenko
GettyImagesAndriy Shevchenko is an icon in his homeland and his presence at the Euros will be a major boost

Shevchenko, 35, will quit the national side after his country co-hosts the tournament with Poland in June but a niggling thigh injury picked up playing with Dynamo Kiev has put his participation in doubt.

"I have had this twice," Shevchenko told Reuters. "But I still have time to prepare myself. I have only just recovered and set about working with the squad. I am preparing myself really seriously. It's very important for me to play a few matches to be able to get game practice. These months are crucial."

The biggest ever sports event to be held in Ukraine is only a few months away and Shevchenko is also battling Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin who previously said "Names do not play football ... If they did, I could be playing now" when asked about the veteran striker.

Still, the former Chelsea star is confident that if he can regain his fitness - which also includes recovery from chronic back pain - then he will be a useful addition to the squad.

"Whether I play or not depends on my fitness. If my fitness is at its best and I feel I can help the team, then I'll play," he said. "I just have to live with that."

Shevchenko is the all-time top scorer for Ukraine with 46 goals and has recently been linked with a move to join David Beckham in Major League Soccer.