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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Delgado allays injury fears
Agustin Delgado of Ecuador
Delgado had surgery on his knee in February
Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez says striker Agustin Delgado will be fit for his country's opening World Cup match against Italy on 3 June.

Delgado complained of pains in his left knee after training on Sunday.

But the 27-year-old, who plays his club football for English Premier League side Southampton, said his ankle was the problem.

"I've taken a knock but it's not very serious," said Delgado on the Ecuador Football Federation website.

"I know that I'll have no problem being in top condition for the first World Cup match. That's what I'm aiming for.

"The pain is actually coming from my ankle, not my knee."

Delgado may now miss Ecuador's last two friendlies against Senegal and Kyoto Purple Sanga.

"It is better that it has happened now, and not a few days before the match against Italy," he told El Universal newspaper.

Meanwhile, Delgado has given up around 100,000 in wages to prove his commitment to Southampton.

Open Quote
I voluntarily suspended my own salary when I went to Ecuador - I didn't want to be a burden to my team when I wasn't playing
Close Quote
Agustin Delgado

Reports claimed the Delgado was unhappy at Southampton, who he joined for 3.5m from Mexican club Necaxa, and that he would not return to England after the World Cup.

But Delgado said he did not regret joining Southampton last November, and that he had struck an agreement with the club to forego his wages while he pursued his World Cup dream.

"Not many people know this, but I voluntarily suspended my own salary when I went to Ecuador," Delgado told the Southern Daily Echo newspaper.

"Not many players would do that, but I didn't want to be a burden to my team when I wasn't playing.

"I have a three-year contract with Southampton, so it is their decision if they want to keep me or sell me to another team.

"Unless they know something I don't, I plan on returning to get ready to be fit for next season."

Neither Delgado or his agent, Eric Manasse, would confirm exactly how the player is giving up.

But sources in Ecuador suggest it is more than 100,000.

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GROUP G
  P GD PTS
MEXICO 3 +2 7
ITALY 3 +1 4
CROATIA 3 -1 3
ECUADOR 3 -2 3

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