Spain angered by Chelsea's silence on Del Horno

May 31, 2006

MADRID, May 31 (Reuters) - Spain have criticised Chelsea for failing to inform them about an injury to Asier del Horno that is likely to end the defender's World Cup hopes.

The Chelsea player has suffered a recurrence of an Achilles tendon problem that will put him out of action for around three weeks and Spain have asked FIFA if they can call up another player to take his place.

"We have found out that he was receiving injections in order to play during the last month and that could have contributed to the injury," media quoted Spanish team doctor Genaro Borras as saying on Wednesday.

"Chelsea did not tell us about the injury. I'm not saying that they were trying to cover it up.... but they didn't tell us about it and as a result we knew nothing."

Del Horno damaged the area around his Achilles tendon in training last week.

"The healing time for injuries like this is between eight and 10 days, plus another 10 before he will be ready to take part in a match," said Borras.

"He will be out of action for 20 days and now FIFA should decide whether or not he can play in the World Cup."

Argentine-born defender Mariano Pernia, who received dual Spanish nationality at the end of April and was joint top scorer for Getafe with 10 goals this season, is favourite to replace Del Horno in the squad.

The 29-year-old was left out of the squad in controversial circumstances after coach Luis Aragones said his papers had been approved too late and that his inclusion would be unfair on others who had played during World Cup qualification.

Pernia, who had set a wedding date for June 20 after he was left out of the squad, said he was ready to grasp his chance to play in the World Cup.

"I've got another chance of going with Spain and I'm delighted about it," Pernia told sports daily AS.

"They haven't said anything as yet, but I've stayed in Buenos Aires so that I can go to Spain if they need me. If I'm called up I'll be on the first plane.

"My wife to be is the first person to be delighted about it and she's not worried at all," he added.

"Playing in a World Cup is the pinnacle for any player, so there are no doubts whatsoever. If it means I have to change my plans then that'll be great."