Eight star players ruled out of Qatar World Cup through injury including Pogba and Mane | Football | Sport
The World Cup gets underway on Sunday with hosts Qatar playing Ecuador in the tournament opener. However, several stars will be forced to watch from home after missing out through injury.
Express Sport takes you through some of the key players who will not be in Qatar.
Reece James and Ben Chilwell
Chelsea and England stars Reece James and Ben Chilwell both lost their races to be fit for the tournament. James suffered a knee injury in October and some of his social media activity seems to suggest he was unhappy over being left out by Southgate.
His Blues team-mate Chilwell suffered a devastating hamstring problem against Dinamo Zagreb at the start of November. Both would have been in line to start on either side of defence in England’s opener against Iran.
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Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was the first high-profile star to be a confirmed absentee. The Juventus star underwent surgery on his right knee in September and will not return until after the World Cup.
His agent, Rafaela Pimenta, said in October: “It is extremely painful to inform Paul Pogba will still need recovery time from his surgery. For this reason, Paul will not be able to join Juventus’ squad before the World Cup break nor the French National Team in Qatar.”
Chelsea’s players have dropped like flies in the early months of the Premier League season. Midfielder N’Golo Kante was one of the first to suffer a serious injury in just their second game of the season.
The Frenchman had surgery after picking up a hamstring issue in the Blues’ 2-2 draw with Tottenham in August. He ultimately lost his battle to be fit for Qatar and is not expected to return to fitness until the new year.
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Sadio Mane’s injury is perhaps the saddest story in the build-up to the World Cup. The ex-Liverpool striker suffered a knee injury while playing in Bayern Munich’s final Bundesliga match before the World Cup break.
Mane was initially named in the Senegal squad, with the African nation conceding that he might miss the first few games of the tournament. But a further MRI scan revealed that the 30-year-old requires surgery and will not play at the World Cup.
Another former Liverpool player not in Qatar is Gini Wijnaldum. The Dutchman broke his leg while playing for Roma in August and will not return until January at the earliest.
Liverpool forward Diogo Jota will not be part of the Portugal team alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and co. The former Wolves star suffered a serious calf injury towards the end of the Reds’ thrilling win over Manchester City in October.
Jurgen Klopp later ruled Jota out of the World Cup. Luis Diaz is another Liverpool player who would have missed the tournament had Colombia qualified.
Part of the reason Timo Werner departed Chelsea in the summer was for the regular game time that would secure his inclusion in Germany’s squad. So it would have been devastating for the striker to pick up an ankle injury in October.
Other notable absentees: Christopher Nkunku, Presnel Kimpembe (both France), Arthur Melo (Brazil), Gio Lo Celso (Argentina), Marco Reus (Germany), Pedro Neto (Portugal) and Mikel Oyarzabal (Spain).