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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Cech 'conscious' after operation
Petr Cech
Cech was injured in the first minute of the game
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is recovering well after undergoing surgery on his fractured skull.

Cech, who is set to be out until next year, was hurt in the first minute of Chelsea's win over Reading on Saturday after colliding with Stephen Hunt.

A Chelsea statement said Cech's condition is improving and that he has been visited by family and team-mates.

Hunt has denied deliberately injuring Cech but Blues boss Jose Mourinho has asked the FA to review the incident.

Cech's wife Martina has been at his bedside while Mourinho and Chelsea skipper John Terry were among the first to visit the 24-year-old keeper.

Meanwhile Hunt insists the collision with Cech was a complete accident: "I can guarantee that I did not attempt to injure Petr and I am very upset that the collision has resulted in such a bad injury.

"When Petr slid in to collect the ball, our momentum meant that a collision was unavoidable.

"I think the TV pictures show that the collision was a complete accident, and I'd like to think that my team-mates and opponents throughout my career in football would say that I'm not the kind of person to deliberately hurt an opponent.

If Petr Cech returns too soon from his head injury, the result could be fatal

Peter Hamlyn, consultant neuro-surgeon

"Serious injury is the worst part of football and I feel terribly sorry for Petr. I have written to him to wish him a full recovery."

Reading boss Steve Coppell added: "We support Stephen 100%. He is a fair and honest player, and anybody who knows him would agree that he is not the kind of person to hurt Petr Cech on purpose.

"We hope Petr makes a full recovery and is back playing soon."

Cech underwent a successful operation at the Radcliffe Infirmary's specialist neuro-surgical unit in Oxford.

Fellow keeper Carlo Cudicini was also carried off during the match and Chelsea have not commented on how long either player will be sidelined.

"I would think Cech is likely to be out for at least six months," Peter Hamlyn, consultant neuro-surgeon and director for the centre of sports and exercise medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital told the Daily Telegraph.

"That is about the length of time it takes for stout bone healing to take place. If the brain underlying the fracture has been greatly injured, his time out may be even longer."

Hamlyn anticipates Cech making a full recovery but warned against an early return.

"If Petr Cech returns too soon from his head injury, the result could be fatal," he said.

"He risks what is known as 'second impact syndrome'. This happens when a second blow causes swelling to the brain before it has recovered fully from an earlier injury.

"It is a situation that could prove fatal, even if the first blow is deemed not to be serious."

Meanwhile, the Football Association is studying the referee's report and video evidence to see whether they will take action against Reading duo Hunt and Ibrahima Sonko.

Mike Riley has told Keith Hackett that he did not request Petr Cech to leave the field of play

Referees' statement

Mourinho had called for their challenges to be examined after they left Cech and Cudicini in hospital.

Meanwhile referee Mike Riley has rejected claims he ordered Cech to leave the field for treatment.

There have been claims Chelsea are to complain about the match official's handling of the incident.

Cech did crawl towards the touchline but Riley has told referees chief Keith Hackett he followed the correct protocol for head injuries.

A spokesman for the referees body Professional Game Match Officials said: "Mike Riley has told Keith Hackett that he did not request Petr Cech to leave the field of play.

"As is the strict protocol with head injuries, he stopped play immediately to get medical attention on as soon as possible.

"He realised the gravity of the situation and told the stretcher bearers to take Petr Cech off by the shortest possible route instead of following normal protocol and going around the perimeter of the pitch."

SEE ALSO
Bolton would lend Chelsea keeper
16 Oct 06 |  Bolton Wanderers
Keeper Cech has surgery on skull
15 Oct 06 |  Chelsea
Cudicini hurt in Chelsea victory
14 Oct 06 |  Chelsea
Reading 0-1 Chelsea
14 Oct 06 |  Premiership


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