Udinese will be without their influential captain Antonio Di Natale for their UEFA Cup quarter-final against Werder Bremen this week.
The 31-year-old left the pitch an hour into Italy’s 2-0 victory in Montenegro that lifted them two points clear of Ireland in Group 8, and scans have revealed ligament damage in his left knee. According to Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci:
“It’s limited damage so the injury is not as bad as we first thought. Now the player will have to decide whether to opt for a conservative therapy or to undergo surgery. In that case his season would be over and he would need five or six months to be available again, but if the conservative therapy works he could return in time to play the last matches of the current season. However, he would be unlikely to be back to take on Bremen on 9 and 16 April.”
However, Udinese president Franco Soldati is hoping that the rest of the Bianconeri squad will double their efforts in a bid to help the team overcome their skipper’s absence.
“I just hope that he [Di Natale] can recover in short time and that he manages to return for the start of next season,” declared the Friulani chief, as reported by sportmediaset.it. We shall do everything to go forward. I confide also in the fact that his team-mates double their efforts to make up for the absence of our captain. The UEFA Cup is a dream for all of us and we want to reach it.”