Eto'o out for five months after knee operation

September 27, 2006

MADRID, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o will be sidelined for up to five months after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Primera Liga club said on Thursday.

'We carried out the operation this afternoon and found a meniscus in perfect condition apart from the damaged area,' Barca doctor Ramon Cugat told Spanish media.

'We told Samuel, who was conscious throughout, that we could repair it and that was what we decided to do. To remove a professional sportsman's meniscus alters the biomechanics of the knee, and you could pay for that later.

'He is a young player, and the fact we have been able to preserve the meniscus means that when he recovers it will be as if he had never had an injury, although it has a longer recovery time.'

Originally doctors had thought Eto'o would be out for two to three months.

He will miss next month's league clash with Real Madrid and the rest of Barcelona's Champions League group stage matches.

The Cameroon international, 25, suffered the injury during Wednesday's 1-1 draw away to Werder Bremen in the Champions League.

Eto'o asked to be substituted in the 65th minute after pulling up on the pitch, and was carried off on a stretcher.

The absence of the three times African Player of the Year will be a major blow to the European and Spanish champions who lose their top scorer from the last two seasons.

Eto'o scored 24 league goals in the 2004-5 season and ended as the Primera Liga's top scorer last year with 26, bagging another six in their triumphant Champions League campaign.

Coach Frank Rijkaard will have to turn to Iceland striker Eidur Gudjohnsen and Argentina's Javier Saviola to lead the line in his absence.