LIMA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Peru coach Ricardo Gareca has backed national team captain Paolo Guerrero to return from a serious knee injury as a better and stronger player.
Guerrero underwent surgery last week after suffering a torn right cruciate ligament while playing for Brazil's Internacional.
The 36-year-old former Bayern Munich striker is expected to spend at least six months on the sidelines, meaning he will miss the rest of Brazil's Serie A season and Peru's opening qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.
"I have spoken with Paolo. He's ok and emotionally very strong," Gareca told reporters on Friday. "Of course it's a setback to be out for six months at this stage of his career, but he is a man of great character and he is used to overcoming challenges.
"I think that sometimes these things can empower players rather than weaken them. I have the feeling that this new challenge will make him stronger," Gareca added.
Guerrero is Peru's all-time top scorer with 38 goals in 102 international appearances since 2004.
The South American zone World Cup qualifying tournament is scheduled to begin next month, with Peru due to face Paraguay and Brazil in the opening double header of fixtures. Enditem