Spain v England

Puyol ruled out of friendly against England

February 9, 2009

Carles Puyol has been ruled out of Spain's friendly against England on Wednesday after picking up a thigh injury in Sunday night's Primera Liga clash with Sporting Gijon.

The Barcelona skipper had only just returned to action after a muscle problem in the same leg but lasted just 68 minutes of the 3-1 win over Sporting before he limped off to be replaced by Sylvinho.

A statement on the official Barca website confirmed the central defender had been taken off as a precaution but will rest for 10 days to avoid a repeat of the muscular injury that had sidelined him for two games.

The statement read: ''The club's medical team and the Spanish Federation have been in contact and have decided that the player will be in Barcelona during the week to recover fully.

''So Puyol will not participate in the international match between Spain and England.''

Meanwhile, Barca coach Pep Guardiola has urged his team not to take their foot off the pedal as they close in on a first Primera Liga title since 2006.

The Catalan giants restored their 12-point cushion at the summit with a 10th consecutive league victory last night - 3-1 over Sporting Gijon at the Nou Camp.

Arch rivals Real Madrid clinched their seventh successive La Liga win with a workmanlike 1-0 home triumph over Racing Santander on Saturday, but have failed to make any inroads as Barca's sparkling form continues.

Asked whether the Spanish champions might lose heart with their impressive recent run of results having failed to reduce the gap, Guardiola replied: ''You might think that, or you might think they've won seven in a row and we have to be careful.

''We've got to go on. The number of games is getting smaller but there are still a lot of points at stake. The number of games is getting smaller and a lot can still happen. We could still not win the league.''

Samuel Eto'o gave Guardiola's side the lead with a simple finish after 24 minutes last night and added a second shortly before the break as the leaders brushed aside Sporting with relative ease.

Dani Alves put the hosts three up after 65 minutes, before Kike Mateo grabbed a consolation for the visitors.

Guardiola, who claimed before the game his team had lost some of their early-season brilliance, was delighted with his side's display.

''I'm very pleased, mostly because of the way we played in the second half,'' he told the club website.

''We created chances and they had very few. We looked like we had the game under control all the time and we were back in top form.''

Cameroon striker Eto'o, whose first goal against Sporting was Barca's 100th in all competitions this term, came in for particular praise from his coach.

''He's a player who helps us a lot with his goals and sacrifice,'' added Guardiola. ''There are lots of reasons why things are going well for us, and he's one of them.''