Zenit v Benfica

Kanunnikov set to replace Danny

February 13, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Zenit St. Petersburg's 20-year-old starlet Maksim Kanunnikov believes that he is ready to replace the injured Danny for the Champions League tie with Benfica on Wednesday.

Maksim Kanunnikov
GettyImagesMaksim Kanunnikov is highly rated

Zenit will be without the influential Portugal midfielder, who cost the Russian club €30 million in 2008, due to a knee injury, but he will be replaced by Kanunnikov. The youngster has returned from a season-long loan spell at FC Tom Tomsk and is now ready to step up.

"I know I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders to replace a veteran midfielder," he said. "[Roman] Shirokov is recovering good but [coach] Luciano Spalletti has decided not to play him for the upcoming game.

"We have lost most of our key players. I am sorry for Danny as well, and the whole team is worried for him. But we will continue to work harder for the match against Benfica.

"I'm ready to replace Danny and will prove myself that I can play for Zenit. I hope I can meet the fans and the coach's expectations on the field."