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AC Milan players rally round ailing Ronaldo

sports Updated: Dec 10, 2007 20:04 IST
Alastair Himmer
Highlight Story

AC Milan's players are trying to keep a smile on the face of Brazil striker Ronaldo as he battles to recover from his latest injury setback.

The former world player of the year is a major doubt for Milan's Club World Cup semi-final in Yokohama on Thursday because of a calf strain he picked up almost two weeks ago.

"What annoys him is he doesn't feel part of the side when he's not playing," Ronaldo's international team mate Kaka told reporters.

"During training we talk to him a lot to help him feel involved. We don't know how long he will be out but we haven't lost hope of seeing him take part in this tournament."

European champions Milan face the winners of Monday's game between Japan's Urawa Reds and Iran's Sepahan at the Club World Cup.

Ronaldo had only just returned after six months out with a leg problem when he suffered a new calf strain while warming up for a Champions League game in Lisbon on Nov. 28.

"We talk to Ronaldo often but we never mention injuries," said Ballon d'Or winner Kaka. "The calf is still hurting him but the medical staff are working hard to cure the problem."

Ronaldo has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, missing two years after knee surgery before returning in stunning fashion to help Brazil win the 2002 World Cup.

But the 31-year-old has suffered more frustration since joining AC Milan from Real Madrid at the start of 2007.

"He has been so unlucky with injuries," said Milan's club captain Paolo Maldini said. "He's a player of enormous experience and we want him back as soon as possible."

However, fellow forward Filippo Inzaghi warned Ronaldo not to rush his rehabilitation.

"I know what he's going through and I hope he recovers quickly," said Inzaghi. "He is a big weapon for us but he must only return if he absolutely knows he is 100 percent."