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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 23:05 GMT
Delaney injury blow
Mark Delaney is injured in a tackle with James McEveley
Delaney was injured against Blackburn
Aston Villa defender Mark Delaney is facing three months on the sidelines after surgery on a damaged cartilage in his right knee.

The Wales international injured his knee in a challenge with Blackburn's James McEveley during Sunday's Premiership game at Villa Park.

A scan on damaged cruciate ligaments also showed up cartilage problems, and Delaney told BBC Sport he is unlikely to play again until the middle of April.

Villa manager Graham Taylor said: "I have nothing but sympathy for Mark, who has had to put up with a number of injury setbacks this season."

Delaney will now miss his country's two European Championship qualifiers with Azerbaijan (29 March) and Yugoslavia (2 April).

In an injury-plagued season, Delaney damaged a knee in September before breaking a bone in his foot in November when playing for Wales in Azerbaijan.

He returned to action last month with Villa after missing 12 games.

Delaney said: "It's just been one thing after another this year. I seem to have come back from something and then something else has gone wrong. It's been a bit of a nightmare.

"I wanted to play a full part with Villa in trying to get them up the Premiership table but its also a crucial time for Wales, who have a great chance of getting to the 2004 European Championship finals."

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