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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Delgado returns home
Agustin Delgado signed for Southampton this season
Delgado has played only twice for Southampton
Southampton have allowed Agustin Delgado to fly back to Ecuador in his efforts to recuperate ahead of the World Cup.

The striker made his latest comeback in Ecuador's friendly against South Africa after a season plagued by injury.

Delgado, known as 'El Tin', has undergone two knee operations since joining the English club from Mexico's Necaxa in November.

Southampton described the decision as a "goodwill gesture" as the Premiership season nears its conclusion.

Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez is desperate for the player, who almost single-handedly fired the country to their first finals, to play in Korea and Japan.

Open Quote
Delgado is happy with the decision and has pledged to come back and show our fans what he can do
Close Quote
Rupert Lowe
Gomez was "happy" to see the 26-year-old in action in the recent friendly and will be delighted by Southampton's accomodating action.

"With only two games left we decidied the best course of action would be for him to go home," Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe confirmed on his club's website.

"He can continue with his rehabilitation and concentrate on the World Cup.

"We have a good relationship with the Ecuadorean FA and they appreciate what we have done."

Delgado has scored 29 goals in 43 internationals but has only played 143 minutes for the Saints since his 3.5m move.

"Delgado is happy with the decision and has pledged to come back and show our fans what he can do," Lowe added.

"Everyone is comfortable with this decision. We wish him well in the tournament and hope he scores a lot of goals," he concluded.

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