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Friday, October 22, 1999 Published at 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK

Sport: Football

Larsson injury 'not career threatening'

Henrik Larsson is due to undergo surgery on his broken leg

The horrific leg injury suffered by Celtic striker Henrik Larsson should not affect his future playing career, his club have confirmed.

John Barnes: "It's a bad injury, but at least it's not as bad as it looked"
The Swedish international, who broke his leg 11 minutes into the Glasgow side's Uefa cup defeat in France, is due to undergo surgery on Saturday to repair the damage.

Manager John Barnes said after the game with Lyon that the disappointing 1-0 loss was overshadowed by the player's injury.

"It was a sickening moment, it really put a dampener on the whole of the night - regardless of the score," said Barnes.

Alison Walker reports: "The injury to Larsson has overshadowed the result"
He confirmed that Larsson would miss the rest of the season but he added that the injury should not pose a long-term problem.

"Henrik will be operated on and we will see what the state of play is after that. I expect him to be playing again in the not too distant future.

"It is a fairly standard operation, we don't anticipate any long-term damage and I am sure he will come back in the course of time," said Barnes.

[ image: Burchill is expected to be Larsson's replacement]
Burchill is expected to be Larsson's replacement
And he said TV and press pictures made the incident appear worse than it actually was.

"What you saw was Henrik's shinpad," Barnes said. "I also thought it was disfigurement of the leg, but in fact it was his shinpad which had slipped to one side.

"So while it is bad, it looked worse than it was."

The club hope that if the striker's recovery goes to plan he will be back on the pitch for the start of next season.

Larsson was stretchered off in agony after he attempted to challenge Lyon's Serge Blanc.

His left leg was limp at the base, and the concern among his fellow players was immediately obvious.

After the match it was revealed to be a double fracture, reminiscent of the career-ending injury suffered by Coventry's David Busst in 1996.

Paul Elliot: "I am sure Henrik will be determined to get back to full health"
Former Celtic defender Paul Elliot, whose career was brought to an end after he suffered severe ligament damage of the left knee, had words of encouragement for Larsson.

He said: "Fifteen year ago a bad leg injury would have seen the end of a career.

"But things have improved - surgery techniques have got better, training facilities have got better and the quality of the surgery which is carried out has got better.

"If Henrik has the self-belief there is no reason why he can't recover fully."

The Swede has been a revelation since joining Celtic from Feyenoord two years ago for just £600,000.

Saturday's 7-0 win over Aberdeen saw him pass 50 league goals for the club, while there have been rumours of £10m bids for the dreadlocked striker.

There was a four minute delay while Larsson was treated on the pitch and stretchered away to be replaced by Mark Burchill as the match struggled to regain its early momentum.

It is now expected that Burchill will become the first team replacement while Larsson recovers.

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