Football: Russian Euro hopes hit by Denisov injury

Russia's Igor Denisov (right) in action at the international friendly football match between Russia and Serbia on June 5, 2016.
Russia's Igor Denisov (right) in action at the international friendly football match between Russia and Serbia on June 5, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's injury problems mounted on Monday after key defensive midfielder Igor Denisov told AFP that he will miss Euro 2016 after suffering a hamstring injury in a friendly against Serbia.

The Russian squad had already lost influential Alan Dzagoev after the CSKA Moscow midfielder fractured a bone in his foot last month.

Dynamo Moscow's Denisov, 32, went down in the 51st minute of Sunday's friendly, which ended 1-1.

"I injured my hamstring in the match against Serbia," Denisov told AFP. "It's a pity, but I will have to miss the Euro."

Russia's Football Union (RFU) said in a statement that an MRI scan on Denisov's leg showed muscle damage that "rules out the possibility of a recovery within the next two weeks".

He will return to Russia from France, where the Euros kick off on Friday, to undergo medical treatment.

R-Sport news agency reported that Zenit Saint-Petersburg midfielder Artur Yusupov, who trained with the Russian squad on Monday, could replace Denisov, although the RFU has yet to make an official announcement.

"Words fail me, it's a pity and it's so unexpected," Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who also serves as president of the RFU, told TASS agency.

"Of course it will weaken the team's midfield a great deal." Russia, hosts for the 2018 World Cup, have been drawn alongside England, Wales and Slovakia in Group B for Euro 2016.