The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Premature return to blame: Bhaichung

Calcutta: Bhaichung Bhutia will not return to action until he is 100 per cent fit and believes the latest injury that sidelines him for at least six weeks has happened because he had to take the field despite not being in ideal physical condition.

The India skipper badly damaged an already injured left calf muscle in Monday’s National League match in Bangalore versus HAL and the period of rest advised means he will miss the SAFF Cup in Bangladesh to be played from January 10-20.

Apart from missing him in the Durand Cup and IFA Shield (both before January 10), Mohun Bagan’s forward line will be sans Bhutia in the first few matches when the National League resumes on January 27.

Speaking from Bangalore Wednesday evening, Bhutia told The Telegraph: “The injury was imminent since I had to make myself available with only 60-70 per cent fitness. I had no choice since the club needed me. I was fully fit when we beat Valencia in Maldives in the AFC Champions League match.

“Obviously it feels bad to miss so many matches with the team needing me, but on the flip side, it also gives me the time to recover fully. And this time I’ll make it clear that I won’t return to soccer unless it has absolutely healed.”

Bhutia will not return to the city immediately and will be with the team for Friday’s National League match against ITI. He also plans to return to Sikkim during this break.

Reacting to rumours that he had returned to India with a partially-healed injury sustained in England, Bhutia retorted that people saying such things should first check facts.

“The injury which necessitated a surgery in England during my stint with Bury FC was on the right knee. This time it’s the right calf muscle. What can I say of these speculations!”

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