Pires abandons any World Cup hopes


Injured Arsenal and France winger Robert Pires today conceded his World Cup hopes are dead and buried. Pires suffered cruciate ligament damage to his right knee in the Gunners' FA Cup win over Newcastle last Saturday.

Their optimism fuelled speculation that Pires had an outside chance of regaining fitness in time for the World Cup finals in Japan and Korea, provided he did not undergo an operation.

But top French surgeon Jean-Henri Jaeger said yesterday Pires should have the operation because there was no chance of him making the World Cup.

Pires told L'Equipenewspaper: "I would simply like people to leave me alone now. Things are clear; the World Cup is dead for me.

"I took the decision to wait for three weeks to decide whether I will be operated on my knee or not because I wanted to make my decision after a lot of thinking. I would like medical secrecy to apply for my knee as well, like any other normal human being.

"My situation is difficult enough, and I don't need some people to say anything more about it.

"One day it is not serious; the next I am out for six months, and the following there is a hope. I am trying to do things as professionally as possible and I am clearly surrounded by competent people.

"I can be trusted. I will do my best to get better as fast as I can."