Yossi Benayoun, Getty Images
Yossi Benayoun lying injured on the pitch Wednesday during Chelsea’s Carling Cup match against Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge. The team doctor says he has to rest at least three weeks. Photo by Getty Images
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The national team faces a potentially serious blow to its European prospects with the possible loss of its captain. Yossi Benayoun is doubtful for the crucial Euro 2012 qualifiers next month against Croatia and Greece after being forced off with a calf injury during Chelsea's Carling Cup defeat to Newcastle Wednesday night.

The English team announced after the game that Benayoun would miss tomorrow's match against Manchester City. Team doctors in England are working in parallel with Israel's national team physician Dr. Mark Rosnovsky. An MRI yesterday revealed that the Israeli captain is suffering from a torn gastrocnemius muscle.

After an initial examination, the Chelsea doctor ordered Benayoun to rest three weeks and sent a copy of the MRI to Rosnovsky. Benayoun is scheduled to meet with his doctor and Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti today. He will undergo another exam in London on Sunday and a follow-up MRI next week. The midfielder is looking into the possibility of returning early to Israel to be treated by Dr. Rosnovsky.

Three years ago Benayoun suffered a tear in his quadriceps just before a qualifier against Russia in Moscow under then-coach Dror Kashtan. Dr. Rosnovsky succeeded after much effort to ready Benayoun for that match, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Luis Fernandez, Israel's coach, took the news hard according to national team sources, and plans to speak by telephone with Benayoun. The two are expected to coordinate the captain's return to Israel regardless of whether he is fit enough to play in the first game against Croatia on October 9. The initial assessment is that the captain will be on the roster even if he is not 100 percent fit.