With the World Cup just three weeks away, football fans across the globe will be hoping that their star players make it through the final days of their seasons unscathed. Some players, however, have already fallen foul of serious injuries and will be joining the rest of us as armchair fans while their teammates head to Russia. Here’s CBJ Star’s best XI crocked crusaders who won’t be getting pally with Putin next month.
Everyone’s favourite sweeper ‘keeper seems likely to miss the tournament as Germany look to defend their world title. A recurring foot injury has kept the 32-year-old out of action since September, so if he does make it to Russia it will be a much-welcomed return for fans of Die Mannschaft and Bayern Munich, who are no doubt still having nightmares about Sven Ulreich’s Champions League semi-final howler.
RB: Dani Alves
The man with more trophies than pairs of underwear is yet to add a World Cup to his collection and might be forced to end his career without one due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury. The wily wing-back has been ruled out for at least three weeks after injuring his knee in PSG’s 2-0 Coupe de France victory over Les Herbiers and could yet require an operation.
CB: Laurent Koscielny
The Arsenal defender is set to miss six months after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the Gunners’ Europa league semi-final second leg defeat to Athletico Madrid. After surgery, the 32-year-old is unlikely to be in action before December, meaning he will miss his last opportunity to play in a World Cup unless he makes himself available for selection in 2022.
Another casualty of a European semi-final, Boateng picked up a thigh injury in the last four of the Champions League as Bayern Munich slipped to defeat against Real Madrid. Boateng’s injury could see him sidelined for between four and six weeks, meaning he is in a race to return to fitness in time for Germany’s squad selection on May 15.
LB: Joe Gomez
The 20-year-old Liverpool defender has had a breakthrough season for club and country and would have been in contention for Gareth Southgate’s squad selection before news of his injury made headlines. A long-running ankle injury required surgery, meaning the versatile defender will also miss the Champions League final in Kiev.
RW: Serge Gnabry
The ex-Arsenal man has found a new lease of life since leaving the Emirates and returning to his native Germany, but a torn groin muscle has put a stopper on any hopes of appearing at the World Cup. The injury also brought an end to the 22-year-old’s time at Hoffenheim, where he was on loan from parent club Bayern Munich.
Everton’s midfield maestro has been out of action since mid-March as a result of a knee injury he picked up in the Toffees’ victory over Brighton in the Premier League. The Icelandic ace is due back in six to eight weeks, so may yet return in time to revive the Viking clap at their opening match against Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
LW: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Completing a hat-trick of European semi-final injuries, the Ox sustained knee ligament damage against Roma, which will rule him out of the final and the World Cup. Since his summer move from Arsenal, the 24-year-old has flourished under Jurgen Klopp and would have been one of the more exciting prospects for the Three Lions, which no doubt leaves Gareth Southgate with a midfield selection dilemma.
CF: Michy Batshuayi
Chelsea’s on-loan attacking dynamo had a barnstorming start to life in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, but has since picked up an ankle injury in the Ruhr derby against Schalke. The season-ending ankle roll also throws the Batman’s World Cup hopes into jeopardy as he joins the ever-growing list of players racing to the fitness finish line.
CF: Sergio Aguero
The Argentinian has missed the end of Manchester City’s season since having a knee operation in mid-April. Despite Pep Guardiola initially suggesting the 29-year-old would be back for the culmination of the Premier League season, his absence from the squad means he may struggle to be fit in time for the squad announcements, which would be a major blow for the South American nation.
The scourge of national footballing talismans, the broken metatarsal injury strikes again just before a World Cup. After the national panic caused by David Beckham’s pre-2002 tournament injury, Brazil find themselves in a similar situation as Neymar aims to return in time to help the Selecao to their sixth world title. Rumours from PSG’s training ground are that he’s returned to ball work this week, but it remains to be seen if he’ll make it to Rostov for the match against Switzerland.