World Cup managers will be hoping to have a full squad to choose from ahead of the World Cup. With the recent start of their respective club seasons, injuries are now a real headache for International managers. Some teams have been hit worse than others. The likes of France have a few major injury concerns. Along with many other nations, teams are facing a race against time to have players fit for World Cup selection. Let’s take a look at some of the countries dealing with injury worries.
Countries struggling with injuries
Portugal have been faced with three injury blows ahead of the World Cup. Wolves attacker Pedro Neto is the only notable player definitely ruled out, with damaged ankle ligaments.
The injury is another tough blow to take for the Premier League attacker. Neto was making a serious name for himself in 2020/2021 before his progress was halted in April 2021. After suffering a broken kneecap, he was sidelined for 10 months. Neto then played the backend of the 2021-22 season aiming to find his 2020-2021 form. The 22 year old has started every Premier League game this season, so this is a huge blow for Wolves and another mental obstacle for Neto.
Pedro Neto has impressed massively in the Premier League, but surprising to some, hasn’t been a regular starter for Portugal. The other two injury blows, Pepe and Nuno Mendes, are guaranteed to start in Qatar if fit. Nuno Mendes picked up an injury playing for PSG against Benfica on October 5th. The full back is expected to be out for up to a month. He was Portugal’s best player in their defeat by Spain last month. So, to lose him now would be a big blow to their World Cup hopes.
Adding to the defensive injuries, veteran Pepe’s fitness is also in doubt. Pepe sprained his knee and is expected to miss the next few matches. The Porto defender is still integral for Portugal. At 39 years of age, he’d be entering his 4th World Cup if fit and available.
England could be without two of their Euro 2020 stars: Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker. Phillips required surgery on his shoulder after a recurring injury back in September. It looks highly unlikely he’ll be involved with the World Cup only 8 weeks after surgery.
It’ll be a blow for England’s midfield if Phillips wasn’t involved. Phillips started every game for England at Euro 2020, partnering West Ham’s Declan Rice in midfield. Competition is tough with the impressive Jude Bellingham now partnering Declan Rice. But, no doubt Southgate would have Phillips in his squad plans if fit and available for Qatar.
Another of England’s Euro stars is also facing a race to be fit for Qatar. Manchester City’s Kyle Walker. He was arguably England’s best player at the Euros. Walker was one of three England players to get into the Euro team of the tournament. The City defender is a regular starter for England at either right back or right centre back in a back 3. England’s manager Gareth Southgate has a host of World class options available at right back. Options include some of the Premier leagues best full backs in Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander Arnold. Although the undoubted world class quality available, Walker has been the best of the crop and would be a massive miss. It’s yet to be seen how long it’ll take before the defender can train again. With only a matter of weeks before England’s first group game, time is not on his side.
More recently, full back Reece James has been almost definitely ruled out of the World Cup. James went off during Chelsea’s win against Italians AC Milan with a suspected knee injury. With Kyle Walker a doubt, James would be expected to fill in at right back, causing further issues for Southgate. The 22 year old is expected to be out for around 8 weeks so any chance of featuring looks to be extremely doubtful.
France have been hit with two major injury worries ahead of Qatar. Chelsea’s N’golo Kante has been ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a further injury setback. Kante suffered a serious hamstring injury against rivals Tottenham back in August. He hasn’t featured for club or country since. After suffering a setback in his rehab process, France manager Didier Deschamps will not be able to call on his services for Qatar. This injury worries don’t end there. Midfield partner Paul Pogba is also facing a race against time to be fit in time for the World Cup.
Both players were influential in France’s 2018 World Cup triumph. With Blaise Matuidi now retired from international football, France could be without all three starting midfielders from their 2018 side. But, it’s starting to look more likely that Pogba will feature in Qatar. French outlet L’Equipe reported that the midfielder is likely to return to action in early November.
With Kante ruled out, it looks like it’ll be Real Madrid’s midfield pair of Tchouameni and Camavinga to try and fill the void.