With the World Cup under three months away, international managers will be looking to finalise their squads for the tournament very soon. Players don’t have long left to assert their cases for selection, whilst other players may be fighting just to be in contention for selection.
Injuries at this time of year can break the hearts of nations should their star players be force to sit out of the tournament, and that’s exactly what teams will be looking to avoid. Unfortunately for some, they find themselves in that exact predicament.
Here, we will be looking at seven players who are racing against time to recover from injuries in time for the World Cup.
7. Juan Cuadrado
Juan Cuadrado left his mark on the previous World Cup in 2014, finishing as joint highest assist maker alongside Germany’s Toni Kross with four assists. He helped his team reach the quarter finals where they narrowly missed out to Brazil.
After a positive start to this season with Juventus, it was revealed in January that he underwent surgery on a long-standing groin problem with doctors then claiming he would be rested for 30 days before he could return to full action.
However, he has still not returned to full fitness and it’s still not clear whether or not the winger will play again this season. It would be a huge blow for Colombia should he miss the tournament, and the fans will be crossing their fingers over a hopeful return to action soon for the 29-year-old.
6. Alexander Kokorin
Whilst many are optimistic about recovering in time for the World Cup, in this case hope is quickly fading. Russian star forward Alexander Kokorin tore his anterior cruciate ligament whilst playing for Zenit St Petersburg in their Europa League clash against RB Leipzig.
The full extent to his injury is yet to be revealed, although experts are suggesting he will need surgery, meaning he would be set to miss up to five months of action. This comes as a big blow to the host nation for 2018 who were looking to put in a good run in front of their home fans.
Unfortunately, it looks highly likely that they will be without their star man who is current the second top goalscorer in the Russian Premier League and has represented his country 42 times.
5. Manuel Neuer
Last season he was widely viewed as the best goalkeeper in world football, however he has only managed three Bundesliga appearances all season so far due to injury. it was back in September when he suffered a hairline fracture in his foot, the second time he has suffered this injury in a matter of months, with doctors reporting he would return to action in January.
However, he has still yet to return and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in Thailand, which would suggest a return to first team duties is far off. Club officials are reiterating that he is expected to play for Bayern again before the end of the season, which will fill the German fans with confidence as they look to retain the World Cup which they currently hold.
4. Gylfi Sigurdsson
Iceland shocked the world by knocking out England and reaching the quarter finals of their first major tournament at Euro 2016, now they will be competing in their first ever World Cup this summer.
Unfortunately, their star man Gylfi Sigurdsson will face a number of weeks on the sidelines after picking up an injury during Everton’s Premier League clash with Brighton in March. The doctors originally set a timeline of six to eight weeks for Sigurdsson’s recover, however to the delight of the Iceland fans Sam Allardyce has since come out and rubbished the report.
He claimed that he fully expects the midfielder to play again before the end of the season should all go to plan, therefore it’s just a matter of getting Sigurdsson back to full match fitness ahead of what promises to be a historic tournament for Iceland.
3. Felipe Luis
Felipe Luis looked to have revived his career after he returned to Atletico Madrid from Chelsea in the summer of 2015. He has once again become a regular member of what is regarded widely as one of the sternest back lines in European football and is enjoying life back in La Liga.
He was also tipped to play a big part in Spain’s World Cup in the summer, however that now looks to be a huge doubt. The full back suffered a broken leg during Atletico’s Europa League tie against Lokomotiv Moscow last week and after undergoing surgery is expected to miss around eight weeks of action.
Whilst they believe he will recover in time for the start of the tournament, fresh reports are suggesting Brazilian head coach Tite may opt for other options such as Marcelo or Alex Sandro should Luis fail to regain full match fitness in time.
2. Harry Kane
He is arguably the best centre forward in world football at present and many believe England’s hopes of progressing through the World cup lay on the shoulders of Kane, however will he make it to the tournament?
He has followed up his 29 goals season last year with 24 goals in 29 games this Premier League season and recently scored his 100th league goals of his career at just 24 years of age. However, England fan’s hearts were in their mouths when he went down after suffering an ankle injury in Tottenham’s league clash with Bournemouth.
Thankfully, club doctors have revealed they expect Kane to return to training at the start of April, and will be match fit once again with five weeks should his recovery go to plan. England fans will be hoping he won’t have lost his magic touch in front of goal as their hopes of a World Cup triumph lie in the hands of Kane.
He was the poster boy of the last World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Neymar was the star player of the host nation, and expectations were high for the former Barcelona forward. He was able to carry his team to the semi finals, however would play no further part in the tournament due to a broken back he suffered in Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia in the quarter finals.
His country were then humiliated in the semi finals, falling to an astonishing 7-1 defeat to eventually winners Germany leaving a whole nation heartbroken. Now, it looks as though he will be in a race against time to be fit enough to compete in the 2018 World Cup.
He suffered a broken metatarsal bone whilst playing for PSG in February, with doctors revealing he would be out of action for three months. He is likely to be back just in time for the start of the World Cup, however how fit will Neymar be for a tournament Brazil are being tipped to progress deep into?