Real midfielder Ruben de la Red, who collapsed unconscious during a match at the end of October, will miss the rest of the season, the Spanish club's president Ramon Calderon has said.
The 23-year-old is the third Real player to be sidelined for the the rest of the season after Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and Malian international midfielder Mahamadou Diarra, both of whom are struggling with right knee injuries. "I can't remember a situation like the one we are in right now, with three players sidelined for the entire season," Calderon told Spanish television station La Sexta late on Thursday.
De la Red, part of the Spain squad that won UEFA EURO 2008, has not played since he collapsed and was stretchered off the pitch during Real's 3-2 loss at Real Union in the Copa del Rey on 30 October. Last week the club said a heart anomaly likely caused the player to suffer a "sharp blackout with loss of consciousness" during the match, but further tests were needed to get a more definitive diagnosis.
A panel of eight top cardiologists consulted by the club recommended the player should not resume any physical activity until the results of genetic testing have been received, it said at the time. Real, the reigning Spanish champions, are currently in fifth place in the league, nine points adrift of leaders and arch rivals Barcelona who they face on Saturday in one of the most anticipated matches of the season.