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Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Arteta set for six-month lay-off

Mikel Arteta
Arteta is Everton's joint top-scorer this season with seven goals

Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta has been ruled out for up to six months after scans confirmed he needs surgery on his ruptured cruciate knee ligament.

The 26-year-old fell awkwardly only three minutes into Everton's 0-0 draw away to Newcastle on Sunday.

The Spaniard will undergo surgery on his right knee in Barcelona next week.

"We don't wallow in it, it's football, it happens. We need to get it operated on and get him back." Everton physio Mick Rathbone told the club website.

Rathbone said he knew the injury was serious as soon as he saw it.

"We weren't actually waiting on the scan because we knew instantly what he had done, I said to the doctor straight away, 'that's a cruciate," he said.

"We're looking at him being out for about six months. We don't want to hurry Mikel, we don't hurry any of the players back, but we are looking at the start of next season now.

"He's very down, but he's a mature guy, and knows that one of the hazards of being a top class sportsman is that you get injured.

He is somewhat philosophical and is already talking about getting back playing next season

Everton physio Mick Rathbone

"He is somewhat philosophical and is already talking about getting back playing next season."

Rathbone said Arteta will get first-class treatment as the club look to get their prized asset back to full fitness.

"We use three surgeons - the best in Britain, the best in Europe and the best in America. Clearly it suits Mikel to use the Spanish guy and he is very happy with the choice."

Arteta has been a key figure for Everton this season, making 31 appearances and scoring seven goals.

His spell out will be a huge blow to the Toffees as they continue to chase a European spot and hope to further their run in the FA Cup.

Everton boss David Moyes has already lost Yakubu for the season to a ruptured Achilles, while James Vaughan has had surgery on a knee injury and Nuno Valente has been out with a similar problem since August.

Louis Saha has been plagued by hamstring trouble which has restricted him to 14 matches this season, while midfielder Marouane Fellaini is playing with a cracked bone in his back.

Midfielders Steven Pienaar (hamstring) and Leon Osman (stomach strain) have both missed recent games, while Anichebe was injured by a horror tackle from Kevin Nolan against Newcastle.

Everton have managed to maintain sixth place in the Premier League in spite of the injury problems but their hopes of catching fifth-place Arsenal have been dented by the loss of Arteta.

He scored in Everton's previous two games before Sunday's goalless draw and his absence was keenly felt once he left the field at St James' Park.

"Mikel's been fantastic over the last four or five months and he's been behind most of the good things we've had. We're massively gutted and the boys will wish him a speedy recovery," defender Phil Jagielka told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"We're missing important players, obviously Tim Cahill, Tim's been probably just as important as Mikel has for the last few months.

"Unfortunately we lost him today and Hibbo [Tony Hibbert] as part of a back four that has started really well. Its typical, we've not got the biggest of squads but we'll grind through this period," he added.


Moyes is also worried over the fitness of Victor Anichebe, who was replaced shortly before half-time after a heavy tackle from Kevin Nolan, which saw the Newcastle midfielder receive a straight red card.

"I've never felt as much pain in my life," Anichebe told evertonTV. "I thought I'd broken my leg. I couldn't even look down. It was a terrible tackle but I don't think he really meant it, he came and said sorry. But what can you do?

"Now it's not too bad. It's not as bad as I first thought anyway, but I'm feeling a bit of pain in my knee and the back of my calf and down my shin so we'll see how it is.

"I've always thought to myself I'll never get injured for a long period of time. When it happened I thought, that's me, that's my time, but luckily I've got strong legs anyway, and if that was anyone else, their leg would have snapped in two.

"I suppose I'm lucky to come out not as bad anyway, so I'll get a scan on Monday and see how it is. Hopefully everything is alright."

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see also
Newcastle 0-0 Everton
22 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
22 Feb 09 |  Premier League

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