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Chelsea goalie Cech recovers from head surgery
2006-10-16 19:04:39 Xinhua English

Chelsea's goalkeeper Petr Cech lies on the ground aftera crash with Reading's Stephen Hunt during their English Premiership soccer match at Madejski Stadium in Reading, England, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

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BEIJING, Oct. 17 -- Chelsea's Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech underwent head surgery after being knocked out during the weekend's 1-0 victory over Reading, the Premiership club said on Sunday.

Seconds into the match, Cech was involved in a collision with Reading's Stephen Hunt which left him unconscious, resulting in surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull.

In the same match, replacement keeper Carlo Cudinici was later also knocked unconscious in a clash with Ibrahima Sonko.

A statement from Chelsea, released to PA Sport, read: "Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Petr Cech was transferred to the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford last night to the specialist neuro-surgical unit.

"He underwent surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull. The operation was successful but it is too early to give an accurate assessment of his condition.

"Naturally everybody at Chelsea wishes Petr, and Carlo Cudicini - who was discharged last night after being knocked unconscious - a speedy recovery from their injuries.

"Chelsea FC has reviewed the video of both incidents. We endorse the post-match comments of Jose Mourinho regarding the seriousness of these incidents. Chelsea will be writing to the Football Association with our observations."

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho revealed after the victory that he feared for Cech's life following the collision. He also believes Hunt's challenge is similar to Ben Thatcher's infamous clash with Pedro Mendes, for which the Manchester City defender received a lengthy ban.

"I am not surprised by what Petr has - to be alive he was lucky," Mourinho said after the match.

It means Chelsea are set to start third-choice goalkeeper Hilario in the Champions League clash against Barcelona on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea's Premier League game against Reading had barely started before Cech had to be carried off after a sliding Hunt caught the Czech keeper in the head with his knee.

Manager Jose Mourinho called on the FA to investigate Hunt's challenge. "To be angry doesn't help. I'm just waiting ... what the FA will do about it," he said.

Cech's Italian substitute Cudicini clattered to the ground after colliding with Sonko in injury time and was carried off with his neck braced.

Chelsea held on to win 1-0 with captain John Terry in goal.

Ambulances took both concussed keepers to hospital. Cudicini was discharged after treatment.

The English champions face Spanish and European title holders Barcelona at home for the third season in a row on Wednesday in the Champions League's most high-profile group game.

Hilario, 31 next Saturday, joined Chelsea on a free transfer last June from Portuguese side Nacional. He was a Porto youth product and worked with Mourinho during his successful UEFA Cup and Champions League winning spell there but rarely made the first team, playing second fiddle to Vitor Baia. He has yet to make an appearance for Chelsea's first team.

When Mourinho signed his lofty 1.89 metre compatriot, the Chelsea manager said:

"Hilario is everything we need," and the keeper replied that he intended to work hard and make squad selection difficult for his manager. "I want to complicate his life," he said.

Chelsea could also still be without England fullback Ashley Cole, who limped through the last 15 minutes of England's 2-0 defeat in Croatia last Wednesday and was replaced by Wayne Bridge against Reading.

(Source: China Daily)

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