Atletico defender Vrsaljko avoids surgery after knee injury scare

By Richard Martin
Soccer Football - Atletico Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg - Vicente Calderon Stadium, Madrid, Spain - 15/3/17 Atletico Madrid's Sime Vrsaljko in action with Bayer Leverkusen's Wendell Reuters / Sergio Perez Livepic

By Richard Martin

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid right back Sime Vrsaljko will not need surgery on a knee injury sustained on Sunday, although he will be out for a month, the team said on Monday.

The Croatian international was taken off in the first minute of Atletico's 3-1 win over Sevilla and it was reported he had torn his cruciate ligaments, which would have ended his season and ruled him out for seven months.

After examination, he was found to have a partial tear of a posterior cruciate ligament and strained a lateral internal ligament and will undergo rehabilitation and physiotherapy rather than surgery, the team said.

The 25-year-old took his time to settle into the Atletico side following a 16 million euro ($17 million) move from Serie A side Sassuolo in the summer but since the turn of the year has become Diego Simeone's first choice right back at the expense of veteran defender Juanfran.

Vrsaljko is expected to be out for around four weeks, missing Atletico's league games with Malaga, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Osasuna and their Champions League quarter-final tie with Leicester City.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)