World Cup injury update: Who faces a race to be fit for finals?
Charlie Dear | 8 June 2018
Salah, Kompany and Neymar hope to be fit for World Cup
The anticipation is growing by the day with the World Cup beginning in a week’s time.
There will be the usual favourites making up the majority of the headlines. France can afford to leave the likes of Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette at home.
Argentina will be pinning their hopes on the majestic talent of Lionel Messi, yet again.
Whilst Germany will hope their ‘best never rest’ mantra sees them to a second successive title.
As the fanfare begins to kick in, the Coral News Team cast our eye over the nations sweating on the fitness on some of their star men.
Mohamed Salah – Egypt
Perhaps the one that is attracting the most attention is Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.
He was primed to have a big impact on the Champions League final last month.
The 25-year-old plundered 44 goals in all competitions last season and his 95th-minute penalty sent Egypt to the World Cup in October.
However, his place in the squad was cast into serious doubt when a shoulder injury halted his progress in the final.
His presence was sorely missed by Liverpool for the remainder of the game and reports suggested he could miss the World Cup.
The Egyptians were worried as his absence would arguably be an even bigger blow to their team.
National team manager Hector Cuper said the 25-year-old is yet to train like a ‘normal player’. And that Egypt were ‘waiting’ for Salah to be fit for the tournament opener against Uruguay.
Once treatment on the shoulder is complete he still needs to return to full match-fitness. Uruguay may come too soon for the attacker, with the second game against Russia more attainable.
Vincent Kompany – Belgium
Roberto Martinez is in no doubt how important Kompany can be to his side’s progress in the tournament.
His influence is vital both on and off the field.
The Belgium boss has included the Manchester City captain in his 23-man-squad with his leadership being crucial to the team’s morale.
“The approach is very easy. Vincent has been a leader, working extremely hard in the camp for the Red Devils. He performed in a fantastic manner on the pitch against Portugal.
“A fresh performance and his leadership is essential for us.” Martinez admitted.
Kompany was forced off in the goalless friendly against Portugal with a groin injury that has thrown his World Cup participation into real doubt.
Martinez will do everything he can to give the 32-year-old a chance of making the starting line-up against Panama on 18th June.
He can wait until 24 hours before the game before deciding on his fitness.
If Kompany isn’t ready, former Arsenal man Thomas Vermaelen could partner Tottenham duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertongen in the back three defence.
Granit Xhaka – Switzerland
Switzerland are sweating on the fitness of Granit Xhaka after he limped out of training last week.
The Arsenal midfielder clashed with Swiss team-mate Valon Behrami before going down clutching his knee.
He was rested for their 1-1 draw with Spain with fears of ligament damage.
Xhaka has 61 caps and nine goals for the national sid. He is a real leader in the team and would be sorely missed.
However, fears of long-term damage were allayed as an MRI scan came back showing only bruising tn his left knee.
Xhaka may even play some part in Switxerland’s final warm-up match against Japan. But all eyes will be on the first game of the tournament against Brazil on 17th June.
Neymar – Brazil
A World Cup without Neymar would be almost unthinkable. But Brazil’s talisman is in a race to be fully-fit for the finals.
The 26-year-old has been out since February after fracturing his metatarsal bone in his right foot against Marseille.
He underwent surgery in Belo Horizonte in March but has been a long-term injury worry for the Selecao.
Coach Tite has shuffled the pack with the chance his talisman wouldn’t be available. The likes of Roberto Firmino, Willian and Philippe Coutinho have attempted to fill the void.
However, after travelling to England for the national team’s training camp, Neymar is on the cusp of returning to full health.
The Paris Saint-German star returned as a second-half substitute against Croatia and netted the crucial first goal.
The race is definitely on, but Neymar is winning it right now.
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