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Barcelona defender Carles Puyol could miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on an ongoing knee problem, club doctors confirmed on Saturday.
Puyol finally had the surgery on Friday evening after suffering with the problem for seven months since being taken off injured in a match against Getafe back in September.
"The time he will be out is dependent on him. It could be six weeks, two or three months," said Doctor Ramon Cugat in a statement on the club's website.
Puyol also had knee surgery last May which kept him out of the European Championships and although Cugat insisted the operation this time round wasn't as serious as it was then, another of the club's doctors, Ricard Pruna, said they needed to find a solution to the problem as soon as possible.
"The moment arrived when he couldn't play any more with these problems. By operating now and taking advantage of the international break, there is a chance he could be back in time for the end of the season, so we decided to do it just now.
"If we hadn't intervened now, there would have been the chance of aggravating the problem. The end of the season was approaching and we needed to find a solution so this was the best option."
Pruna also spoke about the ongoing injury problems being suffered by Xavi Hernandez.
The midfielder returned from a hamstring injury for the match against AC Milan in midweek but has been ruled out Sunday's visit of Rayo Vallecano after aggravating the problem.
"It worries us that there is an injury in the thigh that is dragging on," said Pruna.
"The consequences after the Milan match were minimal but it is not an injury that is cured."
Despite his injury, Xavi was called into the Spain squad yesterday for the matches against Finland and France later in the month, but Pruna insisted contact had been made with the Spanish football federation and that the 33-year-old would not play if he is not fit.
"We have spoken with the doctors of the national team and they have told us they will look after him and decide what is the best thing to do."