With this year’s World Cup kicking off on winter - only a week before the Premier League and many others came to a halt - it comes as no surprise to see many of the world’s biggest talents forced to pull out of the tournament due to injury.
England full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell didn’t have enough time to recover when they picked up their own injuries at the start of the month, while France have been particularly unlucky so far.
DIdier Deschamps’ side jetted off to Qatar without N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Presnel Kimpbembe, Karim Benzema and Wesley Fofana, while Christopher Nkunku was sent home after spraining his knee in training. Their injury list worsened in opening win over Australia, when Lucas Hernandez ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
Many players will have the worry of picking up an injury in the back of their mind as they take to the pitch in Qatar, while managers will be desperate to keep all their best players fit. Here is everything you need to know about World Cup nations replacing their injured stars.
Can World Cup teams replace injured players?
Teams are no longer able to replace players that pick up any new injuries as the deadline to bringing in replacements expires 24 hours before their opening game. France were able to bring in Randal Kolo Muani for Nkunku as his injury occured a week before they faced Australia, however they are unable to replace Hernandez.
Thankfully for England, they are blessed with real squad depth and would still look strong in most positions if any of their players were to pick up a serious injury. The Three Lions’ latest concern was the fitness of Harry Kane, who was forced off with an ankle problem against Iran. However, Gareth Southgate confirmed he would be fit to face USA following a scan on Wednesday.
While it will be frustrating for any countries that lose a player to injury during the tournament, World Cup squads were expanded to 26 players this season and so should still be less of an issue.
World Cup injuries so far
Here is a list of noteable injuries that have occured since countries confirmed their 26-man squad earlier this month:
• Nicolas Gonzalez (hamstring) - replaced by Angel Correa
• Joaquin Correa (knee) - replaced by Thiago Almada
• Romelu Lukaku (thigh) - remains in squad
• Neymar (ankle) - currently being assessed
• Thomas Delaney (knee) - withdrawn
• James Maddison (knee) - remains in squad
• Harry Maguire (illness) - remains in squad
• Harry Kane (ankle) - remains in squad
• Presnel Kimpembe (hamstring) - replaced by Axel Diassi
• Christopher Nkunku (knee) - replaced by Randal Kolo Muani
• Lucas Hernandez (ACL) - withdrawn
• Leroy Sane (knee) - remains in squad
• Sadio Mane (knee) - replaced by Moussa N’Diaye
• Cheikhou Kouyate (ankle) - remains in squad
• Abdou-Lahkhad Diallo (muscle) - remains in squad
• Jose Gaya (ankle) - replaced by Alejandro Balde