Nine players that are currently injury doubts ahead of the 2022 World Cup: Pogba, Dybala, James…

Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, Antoine Griezmann and Jules Kounde

The 2022 World Cup is now just weeks away but several big-name players could miss out on playing in this year’s tournament.

Players have games to navigate at club level before heading out to Qatar in November and that has led to a series of injury problems. 

We’ve taken a look at nine players that are currently sweating over their fitness ahead of the World Cup.

Note: we’ve not included Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto, Arthur Melo, N’Golo Kante or Georginio Wijnaldum as they’ve been officially ruled out of the tournament.

Reece James

James looked set for a starring role in his first World Cup for England after establishing himself as Gareth Southgate’s first-choice right-back.

But he picked up a knee injury during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over AC Milan earlier this month and was told he faces two months out. 

While the defender will undoubtedly miss the group games, England could be tempted to take him regardless in case they progress to the latter stages.

“Last week against AC Milan, I went in for a tackle and got injured. I didn’t think it was too bad after the game. I stayed an extra day in Milan and just thought that maybe it was a little niggle,” he said on a YouTube Shorts video.

“A day or two later I saw a surgeon and he told me that I was going to be out for around two months. It’s obviously devastating. The World Cup is only one month away. As a kid growing up, I always wanted to go and this is my first opportunity.

“I’ll do everything I can to be there, but I’m obviously devastated. The injury has come at the wrong time. But every day we need to be grateful and thankful. I’ll keep you updated with what’s happening on a day-to-day basis.”

Kyle Walker

Walker underwent surgery after suffering a groin injury to his left leg during the first half of Manchester City’s 6-3 win over Manchester United.

The right-back, who helped England reach the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, faces an uphill battle to feature at the winter tournament but is refusing to give up. 

“I’m well above what they thought I’d be able to do at this point,” Walker told Radio 5 Live. “I just feel I can do this. I am going to have to be patient with it. There will be bumps in the road but hopefully, come the selection, I’m included.”

Paul Pogba

Pogba was one of the standout performers at the 2018 World Cup and even scored in the final as France beat Croatia 4-2.

The midfielder left Manchester United and returned to Juventus in the summer transfer window but picked up a knee injury during pre-season.

He initially opted to treat the injury with conservative therapy in an attempt to save his World Cup dream before agreeing to undergo surgery in September.

The 29-year-old is yet to play a minute of competitive football in 2022/23 but did return to training last week and will be hoping to make his second debut for Juventus before the World Cup. 

Raphael Varane

Alongside Pogba, Varane was also a key part of the France side that won the 2018 World Cup, but he might have to watch the 2022 edition from home.

The Manchester United centre-back suffered a hamstring injury against Chelsea and was visibly distraught as he limped off the field. 

While early indications are that the problem isn’t bad as first feared, he won’t play for United before the World Cup and France boss Didier Deschamps wants all of his players to be fully fit for their opener against Australia. 

“I have never taken a player to a tournament if he has not fully recovered,” Deschamps said in September. 

“I don’t have the answers today but I would never take a player – whoever that might be – if there is a chance he is not fit for the first match. He will not come if he is not ready. It would be useless coming just for the sake of it. Even he doesn’t want that.”

Raphael Varane Man Utd

Boubacar Kamara

Kamara tore knee ligaments just eight matches into his Aston Villa career and was expected to miss the World Cup with France as a result.

According to reports, he spent three weeks at the FIFA medical centre in Dubai and also visited a hospital there for hyperbaric oxygen chamber sessions. 

The midfielder is now ahead of schedule in his recovery from injury and recently stepped up to outdoor running and ball work at Villa’s training ground. 

Florian Wirtz

Alongside Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala, Wirtz is regarded as one of Germany’s best young players and had been tipped to star at the 2022 World Cup.

But the 19-year-old midfielder hasn’t featured for Bayer Leverkusen since he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture back in March.

He’s recently returned to first-team training and has reportedly been named in Hansi Flick’s provisional squad for the World Cup, but his lack of match fitness could see him miss out on the final 26-man roster.

Paulo Dybala

After leaving Juventus at the end of last season, Dybala joined Roma on a free transfer and has rediscovered his best form with seven goals and two assists in 11 appearances in 2022/23.

But he pulled up after scoring a penalty against Lecce earlier this month and a scan showed that he had suffered a muscular injury to his left thigh.

“To put it mildly – it’s bad,” Jose Mourinho said. “Unfortunately, it’s very, very bad. I’m no doctor, and I haven’t spoken with him, but from experience, we won’t see him before the break.”

According to reports, Dybala is expected to be included in Argentina’s preliminary squad for the World Cup as they continue to monitor his recovery.

Angel Di Maria

Di Maria has confirmed that he’ll retire from international football after the 2022 World Cup, but he is facing a race against time to be fit for the tournament.

The Argentina international, who scored the winning goal in the 2021 Copa America final, sustained a hamstring injury during Juventus’ defeat to Maccabi Haifa and was visibly upset as he walked off the field. 

He is expected to return to the Juventus squad in early November but will need to avoid any setbacks in the next few weeks. 

Raul Jimenez

Jimenez hasn’t played for Wolves since August due to a persistent groin problem and has been working with medical staff in his native Mexico.

The striker is set to return to England this week to begin the next stage of his rehabilitation, and he will be given every chance to prove his fitness before the World Cup. 

“The only ones who will take us to the last minute are Jesus [‘Tecatito’ Corona] and Raul [Jimenez],” Mexico manager Gerardo Martino said in September. “When the medical staff asked me until when [we can wait], I told them that November 16.

“But those who aren’t within the 26 players [World Cup list], won’t go to Girona [for the final two friendlies in Spain this November].”

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