Pedro sets sights on EURO 2012 spot
While some players may be looking to wind down at this stage of the season with one eye on a beach holiday, Barcelona winger Pedro Rodriguez will be giving it everything over the coming weeks to try and ensure his summer will be spent on international duty in Ukraine and Poland.
Pedro earned himself a place in the record books in 2009 when he became the first player to score in six different club competitions, but the 24-year-old has found this season more of a struggle with injuries hampering his bid for a regular starting berth at the Nou Camp.
To make matters worse, the FIFA World Cup™ winner has not been included in the last couple of Spain squads due to his injuries, and his chances of going to the UEFA EURO 2012 in June remain in the air.
However, Pedro put himself back in the spotlight with an impressive goalscoring display in Sunday's 7-0 win against Rayo Vallecano, and he has three more games, two in La Liga and the Copa del Rey final, to force his way into Vicente Del Bosque's final squad. "It's been an inconsistent season marked by injuries, but I'm back with desire, up to speed and gaining confidence to try and help us win the Copa del Rey," said Pedro.
"I will continue working at 100 per cent to be in the Copa del Rey final and I would like to be at the European Championships as well."
Having surrendered their La Liga title to Real Madrid last night and been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals by Chelsea last month, Barça will look to the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao to salvage something from a disappointing end to the campaign.
Pedro admits cup success is his side's main goal now, and that the players are keen to dedicate a win to outgoing coach Pep Guardiola and stricken team-mates Eric Abidal, David Villa and Andreu Fontas. Abidal recently underwent a liver transplant, Villa has been sidelined since December with a broken leg while Fontas damaged cruciate knee ligaments in January.
Guardiola, meanwhile, announced last Friday that he would be leaving the Catalan giants when his contract runs out this summer with his assistant Tito Vilanova replacing him. Pedro, who was given his Barcelona break by Guardiola, added: "The news about Pep's departure was somewhat painful for everyone, nobody expected it, but it's a decision that we must respect.
"I want to thank him for everything he has taught me and for giving me the opportunity to live the dream of playing in the first team. I wish him the best in whatever he does. I know he's a great coach."
Regarding the appointment of Vilanova, Pedro said: "Tito has some very similar ideas to Pep. It's fantastic news. We are all with him."