INTERNACIONAL’S hopes of a late surge in the Campeonato Brasileiro hit a major setback this week, with the news that Leandro Damião will be sidelined for around six weeks.
Damião’s injury will also be unwelcome news to Seleção coach Mano Menezes, who will be without the centre-forward for Brazil’s forthcoming games against Argentina, Costa Rica and Mexico.
Damião broke down during the first-half of Inter’s 1-1 draw at Figueirense on Wednesday night in a routine sprint. Immediately stretchered off, it was initially thought that the 22-year-old would be absent for around three weeks. But further examinations confirmed that Damião is likely to be out around 35-40 days with a Grade 2 tear of his right thigh muscle.
Leandro Damião has been in sensational form in 2011 for Inter, scoring 39 goals in all competitions, with 13 coming in 22 Brasileirão. His absence will be sorely missed by coach, Dorival Júnior who will now pin his attacking hopes on former Manchester City and CSKA Moscow striker, Jô.
“It’s a great loss. I have no doubt about that. Now we have to find solutions here,” explained the Inter technician, “[In] Each game he [Jô] has been improving and is a player who will bring us joy from the moment he has fully adapted. I trust him and believe that he will be an excellent choice.”
Jô, who scored Inter’s equalising goal against Figueirense on Wednesday night, is keen to prove himself:
“I’m prepared to replace Damião. I’m saddened by the fact what is happened. We needed Damião a lot – it is a good opportunity. I’ll get a sequence [of games] in my primary position. I played two games [as a striker] and scored two goals,” he said.
Damião is not expected to return to action until early November and has provisionally been pencilled in to make a return for Fluminense’s visit to the Estádio Beira-Rio on 4th November, which would make him available for Inter’s final six games of the season.