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Injury bug bites Russia hard; Captain Shirokov out for World Cup

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FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2012, file photo, Russia’s Roman Shirokov, center, fights for the ball with Northern Ireland Craig Cathcard, bottom and Steven Davis, right, during a Group F World Cup qualifying soccer match between Russia and Northern Ireland in Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev, File) - SEE FURTHER WORLD CUP CONTENT AT APIMAGES.COM


The World Cup hopes for Roman Shirokov have been crushed by a knee injury, perhaps forever.

Well, not the knee injury. Shirokov is 32-years-old, and the Russian captain is having surgery next week to repair a knee ligament injury. Thirty-six year-old World Cup performers are not alien, but they aren’t a regular occurrence.

Shirokov has been capped 41 times, scoring 12 times. It’s a major blow for a country hoping to survive Belgium, Algeria and South Korea. The injury could seriously shift the fortunes of the group.

From our friends at Soccerly:

“On Monday Shirokov will fly to Finland to undergo knee surgery there,” Capello told a news conference after the 2-0 win over Morocco in the World Cup warm up match.

“Shirokov is a very important member of Russia’s squad but I hope that the rest of the players will be able to perform at their best level in Brazil anyway.”

Capello, who has guided Russia to their first World Cup finals since 2002, said Rubin Kazan midfielder Pavel Mogilevets will replace Shirokov in the squad.

(Shirokov) missed both of the warm up matches with Slovakia and Norway but was able to train with the rest of the squad on Thursday before suffering a relapse.

Anything can happen at World Cup, but this certainly feels like a stamp on Belgium’s ticket to the top spot in Group H. Algeria and South Korea will be buoyed by the news as well.

Follow @nicholasmendola