AZ Alkmaar's worst fears over defender Joris Mathijsen have been realised after he was today ruled out of action for at least six months.
The 25-year-old Dutch international had been struggling with a knee injury of late but returned to the Alkmaar lineup for last night's 1-1 draw with Villarreal CF that took the Dutch high-fliers into the UEFA Cup semi-finals, 3-2 on aggregate. However, Mathijsen was hurt in a 17th-minute collision with José Mari Romero and had to be replaced.
Mathijsen was taken to hospital and tests on his right knee showed he had torn a ligament. He underwent surgery and will require complete rest for up to six weeks. Alkmaar added that they did not expect the player back in action for at least six months, meaning he will miss the start of the 2005/06 campaign.
Alkmaar will face Sporting Clube de Portugal in the semi-finals, to be played over two legs on 28 April and 5 May. The club will be without defender Barry Opdam for at least the first leg after his sending-off against Villarreal last night while winger Martijn Meerdink was sidelined for several months in March with a serious knee injury.
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