MILAN – Barcelona striker David Villa faces a race to be fit in time for next summer's European Championships after successfully undergoing surgery on his broken left shinbone today.
Villa is set to be sidelined for between four and five months with the injury he sustained during the first half of Thursday's Club World Cup semi-final victory over Al-Sadd in Japan.
According to Dr Ramon Cugat, who was one of the doctors who operated on Villa on Monday afternoon, Spain's all-time record scorer is unlikely to feature again during Barca's Primera Division and Champions League campaigns but hopes the forward will be fit for Euro 2012.
Cugat said: "The hope of him (Villa) and everyone will be that he can play at the European Championships."
"The chances that Villa will play this season are small but you can't rule out anything."
The end of the Primera Division season is scheduled for the weekend of May 12, with the Champions League final taking place in Munich on May 19, while Euro 2012 begins on June 8.
Cugat said: "The final in Munich is a little tight. I think he will be out for four or five months, but we have to wait and see how he progresses.
"If I set a (return) date, I would surely be wrong. He is keen to be able to play in the both the Champions League final and the European Championships. He wants it all.
"In four or five months we hope to have him ready for the European Championships."
He added: "The operation went perfectly, and 35 minutes after the player was sending messages to his team-mates and smiling."
Villa, who will spend the next few days recovering in hospital, was the tournament's top scorer as Spain won Euro 2008 with four goals while he was joint top-scorer with five goals as the Iberian nation won the World Cup in South Africa last summer.
Earlier this year the 30-year-old broke Raul's national record of 44 goals.
Should Villa miss out on a place in Vicente del Bosque's Euro 2012 squad then it could be to the benefit of Valencia striker Roberto Soldado, who is one of the forwards fighting to be on the plane to Poland and Ukraine.
However, the former Real Madrid youngster put his personal ambitions aside in admitting he hopes Villa will be fit to feature next summer.
He told radio station Cope overnight: "Clearly I'm a bit closer (to a Spain spot), but from the heart I hope that he recovers as soon as possible. Spain needs him, every Spaniard wants him to be at the European Championships and we're sure that he's going to get there."