Shakhtar Donetsk will be without club captain and legend Darijo Srna for Tuesday night’s visit to the Etihad Stadium where they will face Manchester City in the Champions League.
The 35-year-old, who was briefly linked with a move to City last December, has tested positive for a banned substance, the Ukrainian club have announced.
While Srna, a decorated Croatian international with 134 caps, is not officially banned from playing, he has, according to a club statement, “taken the decision not to play until the matter has been resolved so he can concentrate on preparing his defence.”
Srna, who played 90 minutes in Shakhtar’s 2-1 win over Napoli on Matchday 1, has himself released a lengthy statement on the Shakhtar website, which reads as follows:
“First and most important, I would like to make it clear that I have never knowingly or intentionally taken any prohibited substance, nor unfairly intended to gain a competitive advantage.
“I am investigating the possible source of the substance and am co-operating fully with NADCU in this respect.
“In order to focus on my defence and avoid any undue distractions for the team, I have made the decision to refrain from playing until the on-going legal proceedings have been resolved. I will now be focused entirely on clearing my name and reputation.
“Over the course of my entire career I was always under the impression that I had to persistently prove myself over and over again. Today is another such example when I will once again prove that everything I have accomplished, thus far, both in my life and my professional career, has been achieved solely through hard work, integrity, discipline, and honesty above all.
“This is not the end of my career, I can promise you that.”