Russian soccer team captain Smertin needs knee surgery

MOSCOW, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian national soccer team captain Alexei Smertin will be out of action for three to four weeks after he undergoes knee surgery.

The 31-year-old Dinamo Moscow midfielder, who returned to Russia this season after almost three years in the English Premier League, suffered cartilage damage Wednesday during training.

"The club's doctors have confirmed that I need surgery," he said. "I will have the operation either in Moscow or in Germany."

Smertin said on his official Web site that he hoped to start practicing by end of August to prepare for the Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.

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