Whilst the Copa America has started in low-scoring fashion this week, one incident has already occurred in the tournament that has really caught the attention of Manchester United fans over the world.
Last night Antonio Valencia had to be substituted at half time for his country Ecuador in their group match against Paraguay after suffering a sprained left ankle.
Valencia of course missed almost 6 months last season after fracturing and dislocating his left ankle last season against Rangers at home in the Champions League in September. To his credit, our Ecuadorian winger came back from that injury and played a major part in our success in the final third of the season, which was a real bonus to have
Ecuador’s manager Reinaldo Rueda blamed referee Sergio Pezzotta for Valencia’s injury and called for greater protection from referees in the competition. The standard of officiating has come under criticism from managers and commentators alike with several ‘nasty’ challenges going unpunished three days into the tournament.
Early reports coming out of Argentina suggest that Valencia will miss his country’s next game against Venezuela (who picked up a hard-fought point against Brazil yesterday) on Saturday. It shall be interesting to hear in the coming days whether this is a serious injury that could at the least damage his pre-season preparations for us.
Every United fan will hope that our no.25 hasn’t suffered a serious injury as the form he showed when he came back into the team shows that we have got a very good player on our hands.
Of course we already knew that as his form for us in his debut season after joining from Wigan Athletic was excellent, especially given the fact that he had ‘replaced’ Cristiano Ronaldo.
Whatever the outcome of the severity of the injury, it’s a blow to Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans for next season as even if the injury is minor, there is no doubt that the club will be monitoring his progress closely.
After all even when players have recovered from an injury, as we’ve seen before sometimes the player never ‘fully’ recovers and even the slightest strain can lead to a repeat of the earlier injury which can be incredibly frustrating for the player involved.
Let’s hope that we hear good news about our winger sooner rather than later.
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87