Coral’s crucial crocked World Cup XI
Long gone are the metatarsal injuries that hindered stars participating or playing to full potential at previous international tournaments. Now cruciate ligament and other knee injuries are the new fashion, with eight stars sidelined by them.
Coral writers have produced this attacking 4-3-3 lineup of crocked players, who would have almost certainly made their national sides’ World Cup squad.
Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes
Departing Barcelona stopper Valdes was set to go to Brazil with Spain as backup to long-term rival Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina. However, a cruciate ligament injury sustained in his club’s 3-0 victory over Celta Vigo at the end of March ended his World Cup dream.
Right back: Kyle Walker
Spurs’ young Yorkshireman enjoyed an injury-free first half of the campaign, but hip and groin problems ruled him out for much of the latter part of the season, from the end of February. Walker held on to hope right up until the end of the squad announcement day, but failed to recover.
Centre back: Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Out for just over a year with recurring knee troubles, the highly-rated Greece defender made a few attempts at coming back since his return in December. But niggling injuries, including a recent dislocated shoulder in training, have prevented the 22-year-old taking part in his second major international tournament.
Centre back: Holger Badstuber
Bayern Munich’s Germany international played in the last World Cup as well as Euro 2012, but has made no appearances for his club this term after rupturing his cruciate ligament two Decembers ago.
Left back: Bryan Oviedo
A horrific broken leg sustained in a 4-0 Everton win over Stevenage in the FA Cup in January ruined Oviedo’s chances of appearing for Costa Rica against England, Italy and Uruguay in Group D.
Centre midfield: Ilkay Gundogan
Borussia Dortmund star Gundogan has been on the sidelines since Germany’s friendly with Paraguay due to a spinal problem. He was rumoured to still make the World Cup squad, but will now concentrate on getting ready for the new season instead.
Attacking centre midfield: Thiago Alcantara
Called up to Spain’s initial 30-man squad, but has had to cancel plans for Brazil as his knee continues to trouble him. He was hoping to play in the German Cup final for Bayern against Dortmund, but will have to watch both that match and the World Cup away from the pitch.
Centre midfield: Kevin Strootman
The Manchester United target is yet another on this list to have sustained a cruciate ligament injury, this time in mid-March, and will be a big loss for the Netherlands.
Right forward: Theo Walcott
The curse of the cruciate came again, this time with winger Walcott in Arenal’s 2-0 victory over north London rivals Tottenham in the FA Cup. There is no doubt he would have gone to the World Cup with England, so his pace and attacking threat will be missed.
Centre forward: Mario Gomez
Yes, you’ve guessed it, Gomez will sit out of this year’s tournament due to a knee injury. The Germany striker has managed just nine Serie A games all season with Fiorentina, due to being crocked with a couple of problems.
Left forward: Jay Rodriguez
How apt to round this team off with another knee injury. An anterior cruciate ligament rupture has ruled out the Southampton forward from travelling to Brazil. Rodriguez managed to net 15 goals in 33 Premier League games before the injury, and was hotly tipped to be on Roy Hodgson’s roster.