FIFA World Cup in Qatar

With the World Cup less than three weeks away, nerves will be setting in for those players still on the treatment table.

For Paul Pogba, his World Cup dream is already over. Having not played all season for Juventus due to a knee injury, Pogba’s agent Rafaela Pimenta has confirmed the midfielder will not recover in time to take his place on the plane for Qatar as France look to retain the crown they won in 2018.

Availability is less clear cut with other stars, though. Gareth Southgate is sweating on the fitness of three England regulars, with Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips and Reece James all currently sidelined.

Tottenham striker Son Heung-min had to be replaced in the first half of his side’s 2-1 win against Marseille on Tuesday with a nasty-looking eye injury, putting his place at the World Cup with South Korea in doubt.

International managers will be naming their final squads in a matter of days, and they face some tricky decisions with a number of players not 100% fit.

Sportsmail has delved into the World Cup’s current injury list and rated their chances of featuring at the tournament later this month.

Definitely out

Few head coaches are explicitly ruling out their players for definite, but a handful of international stars have pretty much waved farewell to their World Cup chances already.

Pogba has to be the first to go onto this list as he will arguably be the most high-profile absentee in Qatar. It has been a nightmare return to Juventus for the former Manchester United star, and Didier Deschamps must now figure out how to cope without him.

Deschamps will have to significantly re-jig his central midfield, with N’Golo Kante also ruled out. Kante underwent surgery on a recurring hamstring problem last month, and he is expected to be sidelined for up to four months, meaning he will not be back in action until 2023.

Liverpool’s Diogo Jota will also miss out for Portugal due to the calf injury he suffered against Manchester City in October. Jurgen Klopp confirmed the forward will be out for ‘months’ following his setback.

Jota’s international team-mate Pedro Neto won’t make Fernando Santos’ squad either after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury he picked up during Wolves’ 2-0 defeat by West Ham last month.

USA defender Miles Robinson is still recovering from the torn Achilles he sustained in May, while Poland and Brighton midfielder Jakub Moder remains on the sidelines having ruptured his ACL against Norwich late last season.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa summer signing Boubacar Kamara has little to no chance of returning for France after picking up a knee injury against Southampton earlier this month.

Major leg injuries have practically ruled out Mexico star Jesus Corona and Netherlands midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, who are still recovering from a fibula and tibia fractures respectively.


Despite initially boasting an embarrassment of riches at right back, England are now sweating over the availability of star duo James and Walker.

James suffered knee ligament damage against AC Milan on October 11, and after seeing a specialist he was told he is likely to be out for up to eight weeks.

This would rule him out until the latter stages of the tournament, although James has not given up hope of representing the Three Lions at the World Cup.

Manchester City announced Walker had undergone surgery after picking up a groin injury in the 6-3 victory against rivals Manchester United at the start of October.

Pep Guardiola recently delivered a positive update on the full-back by stating he was optimistic Walker would be ready for Qatar, but the 32-year-old has not played in over a month, and it could be deemed a risk for Southgate to take him.

Meanwhile, Phillips has been out of action for even longer, having not played since mid-September due to a shoulder problem.

Once again, Guardiola is hopeful the holding midfielder will be able to feature for England after confirming Phillips is back in partial training.

He may struggle to get any minutes for City before the tournament, though, leaving Southgate with a huge decision to make over whether to take a player that started all seven of England’s games at last year’s Euros.

Looking elsewhere, South Korea will now be hoping that Son’s eye injury is not too serious. The 30-year-old is his country’s talisman, and they are likely to need him at the top of his game if they are to progress out of a group that contains Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana.

The injuries are also piling up for France. Already without Pogba and Kante, there are also doubts surrounding the fitness of Raphael Varane and Mike Maignan.

Varane went off with a thigh muscle problem against Chelsea last month, and Erik Ten Hag has said he won’t play for United again before the World Cup.

However, the injury is not believed to be as serious as first thought, and Deschamps may still decide to take the experienced centre-back.

Maignan played a crucial role in Milan’s Serie A title triumph last season, but has not played since September due to a calf injury.

His fitness is currently being assessed, but time is running out for the goalkeeper to get some minutes on the pitch before the World Cup gets underway.

He is not the only shot-stopper to have emerged as a doubt, as Germany shot-stopper Manuel Neuer could also be at risk of missing out after revealing he has undergone treatment for skin cancer.

The 36-year-old has not played for Bayern Munich since early October.

German wonderkid Florian Wirtz has returned to full training with Bayer Leverkusen after tearing his ACL last season, and has reportedly been included in Hansi Flick’s provisional squad.

However, he is yet to play any domestic football this term, and Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso has admitted he doesn’t want to push Wirtz too early after his long-term lay-off.

Spanish attacking midfielder Mikel Oyarzabal recently returned to training for the first time since tearing his ACL in March, but is still yet to play this season for Real Sociedad.

Barcelona pair Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen are also in danger of missing out for Uruguay and Denmark respectively.

Araujo has not played since September due to an adductor problem, and Christensen has been sidelined for a month with a sprained ankle.

Mexico forward Raul Jimenez is dealing with a hip injury which has kept him out for over a month. Wolves interim boss Steve Davis is still hopeful he could make the World Cup.

Adding to Jota and Neto’s injury woes, Portugal could be without both veteran defender Pepe who picked up a knee injury in training at the start of October and has not played since.

Finally, Paulo Dybala remains a huge doubt for Argentina as a result of his left quadriceps problem.

The Roma forward suffered the injury after scoring a penalty against Lecce on October 9, and ultrasound tests revealed he would be out for six to eight weeks, taking him right up to the World Cup opener between Qatar and Ecuador.

Although he is almost certain to miss the start of the tournament, Argentina could be tempted to take him regardless in case they progress to the latter stages.

Good news

France may not have all their first-choice options at their disposal, but there has been some good news for Deschamps in recent days.

Presnel Kimpembe returned to action on Saturday after a hamstring injury, while fellow defenders Lucas Hernandez and Lucas Digne have returned to training and could feature for Bayern Munich and Aston Villa respectively in the near future.

Portugal have also received a boost with full-back Nuno Mendes coming on as a late substitute in PSG’s 4-3 win against Troyes on Saturday after a recent spell on the sidelines with a hamstring issue.

There was initial concern over Richarlison’s participation in the tournament after the Tottenham forward hobbled off with a calf problem against Everton last month.

Antonio Conte has said he is ‘absolutely’ certain the Brazilian will be back in time to play in Qatar, though, and the 25-year-old is closing in on a return to action.

Meanwhile, Juventus playmaker Angel Di Maria was clearly fearful of missing the World Cup after leaving the field in tears against Maccabi Haifa on October 11 with a hamstring injury.

However, further tests showed he will be out for just 20 days, meaning he should return in the next few days and his World Cup place does not appear to be in jeopardy.

Di Maria’s club team-mate Weston McKennie also went off with a hamstring strain against Lecce on Saturday and may have thought his World Cup dream was over.

Subsequent tests have revealed he will only miss two weeks of action, though, and it is believed he will return in time to play in Qatar for the US.


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