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Villarreal's Coquelin tears hamstring

Soccer Football - Spanish Super Cup - Semi Final - Valencia v Real Madrid - King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - January 8, 2020 Valencia's Francis Coquelin REUTERS/Waleed Ali/Files

MADRID (Reuters) - Villarreal midfielder Francis Coquelin has been ruled out of action for around a month after tearing his hamstring in Sunday’s 4-0 defeat by Barcelona, disrupting the club’s plans for him to be their midfield engine this season.

A club statement on Tuesday said Coquelin had torn his right hamstring but did not state how long he would be out for, although Spanish newspaper Marca reported he would be missing for four weeks with the injury.

Villarreal, who finished fifth in La Liga last season, lost two key central midfielders in the close season, with club servant Bruno Soriano retiring and Andre Anguissa returning to Fulham.

Coquelin, who signed from rivals Valencia alongside Dani Parejo, was earmarked as the team’s main holding midfielder but is now set to be out of their next five league games, including the clashes against Atletico Madrid and Valencia.

The French midfielder’s injury is another problem for coach Unai Emery, who has made an underwhelming start to life at Villarreal, drawing with promoted Huesca in their first game, then scraping a win over Eibar before their drubbing by Barca.

The former Arsenal and Paris St Germain coach was so displeased with the team’s performance against Barca that he offered an apology to the club’s supporters.

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge