UKRAINE striker Andriy Shevchenko has a 50-50 chance of turning out for today's crucial Euro 2012 game against England and will have the last word on whether he plays, the national team's doctor said yesterday.
Leonid Mironov, speaking on Studiya 1+1 channel, said tissue was still swollen in Shevchenko's troublesome knee, which took two blows in the Group D loss to France and win over Sweden.
The 35-year-old veteran striker, who scored both goals in his side's 2-1 win over the Swedes, missed training on Sunday because he could not bend his knee properly, Mironov said.
Ukraine rely heavily on his attacking flair and his absence from the match against England, which they have to win in order to qualify for the quarterfinals, would be a huge setback.
"Andriy Shevchenko's condition as of (11pm) lights-out last night was satisfactory. There is less fluid in his knee joint. But the knee tissue is still swollen and he cannot fully bend his knee joint," Mironov said.
"We'll hold a doctors' council .. We will firstly take into account the player's feelings and what he wants. Andriy will have the last word as he knows his knee better than anyone else.
"This morning (Monday) the chances that Shevchenko will play against England are fifty-fifty. I think that Andriy, with all his desire to prove to the country and the whole world that he is a real professional, will do his best to play," Mironov said.
If Shevchenko cannot play, coach Oleg Blokhin may bring in striker Marco Devic to partner Andriy Voronin in attack.
Shevchenko is Ukraine's record scorer, with 48 goals, and was European Footballer of the Year in 2004. He scored 175 goals for Milan between 1999 and 2006, winning the Champions League in 2003, but a move to Chelsea proved disappointing.
Apart from his skill and experience, he is regarded as an inspirational figure whose mere presence on the field can get the best out of his team-mates.
Key England striker Wayne Rooney is set to feature at Euro 2012 for the first time tonight. England, with four points from two games, need only a draw to progress to the quarterfinals from their final match, while Ukraine must win at the Donbass Arena to avoid the same fate as co-hosts Poland and be eliminated after the first round.
Rooney is available again after serving a two-match ban for his red card against Montenegro in a Euro qualifier last year.
In four previous appearances at the stadium, Ukraine have failed to triumph and Blokhin has spoken of his team's need to break a perceived curse at the modern $400m arena.
England manager Roy Hodgson must choose who makes way for Rooney, with Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck netting superb goals in the 3-2 win over Sweden, but winger Theo Walcott could miss out with a hamstring injury after an inspired display as a substitute against the Swedes.
Rooney said on Sunday he was delighted to be available again and was sure England had no cautious thoughts going into their final group game.
"The lads have done so well to put us in the position we are in now and hopefully I'll get a chance to play and try and shine and help us get through the group," he told a news conference.
"It's great that we've scored a few goals and we've got the points we've got. I'm not going to win the Euros on my own - there are 23 players who are going to chip in and help us win the tournament, or go as far as we can."