Paraguayan footballer Salvador Cabanas, right, survived a gunshot wound to the head 4 1/2 months ago. ((Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images))

Paraguay President Fernando Lugo is using absent striker Salvador Cabanas, who survived a gunshot wound to the head 4 1/2 months ago, as a source of inspiration for the country's team in the World Cup.

Lugo sent a letter to team members, which was published Friday, asking them to remember Cabanas if they encounter difficult moments at the World Cup.

Cabanas, who was to be the team's starting striker, was shot in the head on Jan. 25 in a Mexico City bar. He played in Mexico for Club America. The main suspect is still at large.

"Remember our beloved, stupendous example of gritty Paraguay spirit -- Salvador Cabanas," Lugo wrote. "He is a magnificent example of how the fighting spirit, a strong will and faith helps us respond in the face of adversity."

Cabanas was released two weeks ago from a rehabilitation clinic in Buenos Aires. Doctors treating him have been surprised by his recovery and, though he was left off the World Cup squad, some have speculated he may eventually return to play.

Surgeons treating Cabanas immediately after the shooting opted to leave the bullet fragment lodged in his skull, judging that an attempt to remove it would be too risky.