In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, club managers expressed frustration over the timing of the tournament. For their national team counterparts, a crowded schedule means depleted rosters as top players carry seasonal injuries into the global showdown. Here are some notable standouts who could lose games or the entire competition.
A nightmare scenario for Senegalese fans came true on Thursday The team announced Star forward Sadio Mane will miss the World Cup as he recovers from a right fibula injury.
Senegal Football Federation board member Abdoulaye Sou told reporters earlier this week that Mane will miss the team’s “first games” at the World Cup due to an injury sustained 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 most dangerous attacking players in the world with Liverpool before his June jump to the German powerhouse. His contributions have been crucial to the West African nation’s success this year, as evidenced by his game-winning penalty in the shootout to beat Egypt in February’s African Cup final.
South Korean star Son Heung-min has not been ruled out, but after the Tottenham Hotspur forward underwent surgery to repair a broken eye socket this month, his World Cup participation remains in question.
To the relief of South Korean fans, a photo of him practicing wearing a face mask was taken on Wednesday. Son, who shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot with Liverpool’s Mo Salah last season, scored twice at the 2018 World Cup. His South Korea team will begin group stage play against Uruguay on November 24.
Conte, a key member of France’s World Cup-winning side 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 disrupted his opening season with Chelsea.
France are hoping to become the first country to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil won in 1958 and 1962, but the squad’s impressive depth will be tested in Qatar. It was 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 on Tuesday, ending his World Cup before it started.
French manager Didier Deschamps has included the following names in his 25-man list, although all three have been injured in recent weeks: Lucas Hernandez (adductor), Raphael Varane (thigh) and Jules Kaunde (thigh).
Steffen was viewed as the most notable snub from the US World Cup roster unveiled last week, having served as US coach Greg Berhalter’s first choice at goalkeeper for much of the coach’s tenure.
Berhalter was replaced by Arsenal backup Matt Turner, New York City FC veteran Sean Johnson and Ethan Horvath, the keeper to Premier League newcomers Nottingham Forest on loan with second-tier English club Luton Town.
Steffen, 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 been there for me so many times and it was heartbreaking for me to be told he’s not going to be a part of the World Cup team,” said Berhalter, who coached Steffen with MLS’s Columbus Crew in 2017-18. “It’s more about who we have and the comfort level with the guys on the roster. We felt really comfortable with Matt and Ethan and Sean. And that’s the direction we decided to go.
The USMNT World Cup roster is out. 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, unlike the rest of his compatriots, Donnarumma will not feature in Qatar after the Azzurri failed to qualify for a second straight World Cup. Egypt’s Salah, Norwegian sensation Erling Holland, Nigerian star Wilfred Ndidi and Colombia’s breakout star from the 2014 World Cup, James Rodriguez, can also be counted among that group.
The burgeoning Chelsea star injured his knee in a Champions League game against AC Milan last month and hopes to recover in time to contribute to England’s World Cup quest. Some of the rehabilitated players were selected for their country’s squad, with James “devastated” to learn they had been left out last week.
Chelsea team-mate Ben Chilwell will join James on the sidelines, although his absence was 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 made the cut despite undergoing groin surgery in October.
Brendan Rodgers, Chilwell’s former manager at Leicester City, pointed to the injury conundrum in the lead-up to the World Cup, saying “the players will be at their best”. [for their club]But there is no doubt in his mind that an injury could keep him away.
“You can argue and say it’s the same at the end of the season, but you get that buffer and that’s why we all felt this time wasn’t right.”