Austrian breaks leg in practice

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

EDMONTON -- On the eve of the biggest game in their youth soccer history, Austria has lost one of their top players.

Defender Thomas Panny broke his ankle in practice yesterday and is being sent home to undergo surgery.

"It's a difficult injury," said Austrian team doctor Richard Eggenhoffer through an interpreter yesterday. "It's a fracture of the left foot and also his fibula is broken. At the moment no operation is necessary. We fixed the leg in the hospital and we've decided to operate on the leg at home.

"We are trying to get him on a flight home as soon as possible."

Panny, 20, had started four of the five games Austria has played at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. The only game he didn't get into was the final group stage contest against Chile. With a yellow card on his record and Austria having already qualified for the second round, the team did not want to risk him picking up another and getting suspended.

Panny's injury complicates things for Austria heading into today's semifinal.

"We have two defenders that are suspended for (today's) game in Michael Stanislaw and Michael Madl," said Austrian assistant coach Gerhard Schweitzer. "But the coaching staff will get together and find a solution. Now the team does not only have to play for Austria but also for Thomas Panny."

The injury occurred towards the end of practice during an inter-squad scrimmage. Panny was a victim of a late tackle.

The semifinal between the two European neighbours was expected to be a defensive affair. However that may not necessarily be the case now.

"I don't think it'll be a low scoring or defensive style of game, because we don't have many players left on defence," Schweitzer said.


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