Von Bergen to miss Euro 2008 with hand injury

The Canadian Press
5/22/2008 6:57:23 PM
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LUGANO, Switzerland - Switzerland's depleted squad for the European Championship took another hit Thursday when defender Steve von Bergen left training camp with a broken bone in his hand.
Team doctors ruled Von Bergen out of the tournament in Switzerland and Austria after confirming that he fractured his fourth metacarpal in the right hand during a practice earlier this week, the Swiss team said in a statement.

The 24-year-old Hertha Berlin player is the third member of coach Koebi Kuhn's provisional 26-man squad to be forced out by injury since the team began training this week.

Backup goalkeeper Fabio Coltorti was replaced by uncapped 23-year-old Eldin Jakupovic, while Thomas Haeberli was called up for injured striker Blaise Nkufo.

Kuhn must finalize his 23-man squad by Wednesday.

The injury of Von Bergen, who has not been immediately replaced, creates another dilemma for Switzerland's defence, which has had to cope all year without starter Patrick Mueller and, more recently, Ludovic Magnin.

French champion Lyon has already announced that it will not renew Mueller's contract, but has yet to release the 31-year-old defender to the Swiss team because of its shortage of defenders ahead of the French Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.

"The decision whether Patrick Mueller will participate in Euro 2008 has not been taken yet," the Swiss team said. "Negotiations are still going on between the directors of the national team and Olympique Lyonnais."

Kuhn, meanwhile, has decided against fielding Arsenal defender Johan Djourou in a competitive U-21 match Friday for fear that any problems he might incur could add to the defensive worries. Instead, he will stay with the senior squad.

Switzerland will play a warm-up match against Slovakia on Saturday without playmaker Tranquillo Barnetta, who damaged ligaments in his left ankle during training on Tuesday.

The Bayer Leverkusen winger, who celebrates his 23rd birthday Thursday, has been the key creative spark for Switzerland this season, including scoring both goals in a 2-1 friendly win over the Netherlands in Geneva last August.

Switzerland kicks off Euro 2008 against the Czech Republic in Basel on June 7.

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