The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is less than two months away and each of the 32 countries will be eager to win the competition this year. Although several teams will be aiming to field their best players, injuries could rule out some from featuring in the tournament.
Injuries are a part & parcel of the game but some long-term issues cause players to be unavailable for months. During this process, such players could be out of action during important games.
While playing in the World Cup is a dream for every player, some just might not be able to fulfill the same this year due to their injury.
On that note, let's take a look at five players who could be ruled out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup due to injury.
#5 Georginio Wijnaldum- The Netherlands
Georginio Wijnaldum has been somewhat of a constant figure in The Netherlands side since 2014.
The midfielder's infectious energy at the center of the pitch has allowed a number of managers to use him in a variety of positions. His hard work off the ball and intelligence on it has helped the Dutch side quite a bit in recent years.
It was most notable during the 2020 European Championship last year as they reached the Round of 16. He scored three goals in four matches.
Hence, Louis van Gaal will be eager to add the bustling midfielder to his squad for the 2022 World Cup as well.
However, that might not entirely be possible as Wijnaldum suffered a fractured tibia in his right leg last month. The 31-year-old midfielder recently moved to AS Roma on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. He is in a race against time to get fit for the Qatar tournament later this year.
With 26 goals in 86 caps for the Netherlands, Wijnaldum is a key figure in the national team. His absence shall be felt if he misses out on what could possibly be his last chance to appear in the most coveted football tournament.
#4 Lucas Hernandez- France
Lucas Hernandez has, over the last five years, become a regular in the French national team.
Didier Deschamps has often selected the people he trusts to perform for him and Hernandez certainly forms part of that group. This is partly due to the fact that the 26-year-old can play in a number of different positions across the backline. His aerial presence is also an added asset during set-pieces, making him a near complete package at the back.
However, Deschamps might just have to do without the 32-capped French international in Qatar this year.
He is now estimated to be out for weeks, thereby putting his chances of helping France defend their World Cup crown in danger. Although the French have enough depth in their squad, the absence of a versatile option like Hernandez could prove to be a difference-maker in the big games.
#3 Kalvin Phillips- England
Kalvin Phillips has been one of the top performers for the England national team over the last 18 months or so.
The midfielder, who made his debut for the Three Lions in 2020, has made a solid case for his selection since then. He was named England's 2020-21 Player of the Year.
Phillips also took a step-up domestically this summer by joining Manchester City for £42 million from boyhood club Leeds United.
He has been playing second fiddle to Rodri at the start of the season. Gareth Southgate still selected him in the England squad for the current Nations League games. However, he had to withdraw from the same after City confirmed recently that Phillips shall have to undergo surgery on his shoulder.
The midfielder has had persistent pain in his shoulder dating back to last season. Although he has played through it so far, surgery is considered the only option now. This is bound to be a massive headache for Southgate, especially with the 2022 World Cup only eight weeks away.
Phillips was a focal part of the England side that reached the final of the 2020 European Championship. While he could still make it in time, it might not come as a surprise if he does not manage to recover in time for the World Cup.
#2 Marco Reus- Germany
Marco Reus, despite the amount of competition in the German national team, has consistently featured for them for more than a decade.
The winger has made 48 appearances for his country and has managed to score 15 goals and provide 14 assists during that period. Hence, Hansi Flick would certainly consider taking him to the World Cup this year, given the fact Reus also adds experience to the squad.
However, his place might now be in doubt after he suffered an external ligament injury to his ankle.
This is a blow for Reus, who started the season well with three goals and four assists in 10 games across all competitions for Borussia Dortmund.
While he is expected to return within three to four weeks, Reus will have to get back to his best almost immediately. The attacking midfielder could prove to be a useful option in the frontline and will be eager to impress in what is likely to be his last World Cup.
#1 Paul Pogba - France
Paul Pogba has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this summer, with the controversy involving his brother at the epicenter of it.
During this period, his injury has been an under-reported story, which largely affects Didier Deschamps' plans for the 2022 World Cup. Pogba has been one of France's best players over the last decade.
He has helped them reach the finals of the 2016 Euros, the 2018 World Cup and the 2021 Nations League, with the country winning the latter two trophies.
Pogba's leadership and sublime performances in midfield have been key, courtesy of which his injury is rather ill-timed. The player tore a meniscus in his right knee in July but was expected to continue playing without surgery.
However, it was confirmed earlier this month that the player will have to undergo surgery to play again. This puts the French national team in an uncomfortable situation, given that Pogba is arguably their most creative midfielder.
While his absence at the 2022 World Cup is not certain, he is a major doubt. Les Bleus are eager to retain the World Cup this year but it will be a harder job if Pogba is not a part of the squad come November.