In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, club managers have expressed frustration with the timing of the tournament. For their national team counterparts, the congested schedule also means a depleted roster as top players carry seasonal injuries into the global showcase. Here are some of the standouts that may have missed the games — or the entire competition.
Senegalese fans’ nightmare came true on Thursday The team announced Star forward Sadio Mane will miss the World Cup as he recovers from a right fibula injury.
Abdoulaye Sow, a board member of Senegal’s football federation, told reporters earlier this week that Mane will miss the team’s “first games” at the World Cup due to the injury he picked up while playing for Bayern Munich last week. Instead, the team will now be without its top player as it looks to improve on a 1-1-1 record in 2018 group-stage play.
The 2022 African Player of the Year, Mane established himself as one of the world’s most dangerous attackers with Liverpool before his June jump to the German powerhouse. His contribution has been crucial to the West African nation’s success this year, as evidenced by his match-winning penalty kick to beat Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations final in February.
South Korean star Son Heung-min has not been ruled out, but after the Tottenham Hotspur forward underwent surgery to repair a fractured eye socket this month, his World Cup participation is in doubt.
To the relief of South Korean fans, Son was photographed training on Wednesday while wearing a face mask. Son, who shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Liverpool’s Mo Salah last season, scored twice at the 2018 World Cup. His South Korean team will open their group stage match against Uruguay on November 24.
Kante, a key member of France’s World Cup-winning team in 2018, was ruled out of this year’s World Cup last month after undergoing surgery for the latest in a series of hamstring problems that have hampered his early season with Chelsea.
France are hoping to become the first country to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil did so in 1958 and 1962, but the squad’s impressive depth will be tested in Qatar. It will be without Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba (September knee surgery), Chelsea defender Wesley Fofana (October knee injury) and RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku, who was injured in training ahead of his World Cup start on Tuesday.
France manager Didier Deschamps has included the following names in his 25-man squad, but all three have been injured in recent weeks: Lucas Hernandez (adductor), Raphael Varane (thigh) and Jules Koundé (thigh).
Steffen was considered the most notable snub on the U.S. World Cup roster unveiled last week, after serving as U.S. coach Greg Burhalter’s first-choice goalkeeper for most of the coach’s tenure.
Berhalter instead opted for Arsenal backup Matt Turner, New York City FC veteran Sean Johnson and Ethan Horvath, on loan with second-tier English club Luton Town for Premier League newcomers Nottingham Forest.
Stephan, a former University of Maryland star, has been mostly healthy this season, starting 16 of 20 league games for Middlesbrough in England’s second tier.
“Zach has come through for me a few times, and it was heartbreaking for me to tell him he wouldn’t be part of the World Cup team,” said Berhalter, who coached Stephan with MLS’ Columbus Crew in 2017-18. “It’s about who we have and comfort with the guys on the roster. We felt really comfortable with Matt and Ethan and Shawn. And that’s why we decided to go.”
USMNT World Cup Roster Complete. Here’s who made the cut.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, et al.
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is healthy and clear to play for Paris Saint-Germain. However, like his fellow countrymen, Donnarumma will not feature in Qatar after the Azzurri failed to qualify for the World Cup for a second time. Egypt’s Salah, Norwegian sensation Erlin Haaland, Nigerian star Wilfred Ndidi and Colombia’s batting star James Rodriguez since the 2014 World Cup could also be included in the squad.
The burgeoning Chelsea star injured his knee in last month’s Champions League game against AC Milan and hoped to recover in time to contribute to England’s World Cup chase. Some rehabilitated players have been selected for their country’s squad, and James was “devastated” to learn he had been left out last week.
Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell will join James, although his absence is expected after picking up a knee injury during another Champions League game this month. England’s back row now includes Luke Shaw, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker – who were ruled out despite undergoing groin surgery in October.
“The players will give their best,” Brendan Rodgers, Chilwell’s former manager at Leicester City, told reporters, addressing the injury conundrum ahead of the World Cup. [for their club]But there can be no doubt in their minds that one injury can hold them back.
“You can argue and say it’s the same at the end of the season, but you get that buffer, so we all thought the timing wasn’t right.”