With the FIFA 2018 World Cup getting closer, a look at the stars who may miss out
KARIM BENZEMA: France are hoping to claim their second world title this summer but one man who is almost certain not to be part of that journey is Karim Benzema, who has not featured for his country since October 2015. The Real Madrid star does not hold much hope though, explaining his view that he will not be picked as long as Didier Deschamps is head coach.
ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: England will definitely have to make do without the services of Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who suffered a knee ligament injury in the Reds Champions League semi-final first leg victory over Roma.
NEYMAR: Five-time winners Brazil head to the tournament as one of the favourites but one of their star players finds himself in a desperate race to recover full fitness in time for the kick-off. Neymar underwent surgery on his foot in March after suffering a fractured metatarsal and a sprained ankle while playing for Paris Saint-Germain. The 26-year-old will be out of action for three months, which means, even if he recovers on time, he’ll be sorely lacking match fitness.
ALEX SANDRO: Neymar isn’t the only concern for Tite, with Juventus full-back Alex Sandro sustaining a hamstring injury.
FERNANDO GAGO: He was part of the Argentina squad that finished runners-up at the 2014 World Cup but the chances of him making Jorge Sampaoli’s final 23 for Russia 2018 don’t look good. Now playing for Boca Juniors and aged 31, the former Real Madrid midfielder is expected to be out of action until April after sustaining a serious knee injury.
MAURO ICARDI: The Albiceleste are also unlikely to feature Icardi. Despite his impressive form for Inter, Icardi’s presence in the squad could potentially have a disruptive effect given previous disagreements with key players.
MICHY BATSHUAYI: Belgium have no shortage of attacking options at their disposal, but they may be without Batshuayi, who saw his season ended by an ankle injury, while playing for Borussia Dortmund mid-way through April. However, Dortmund refused to rule him out of the World Cup.
GYLFI SIGURDSSON: Iceland will be taking part in the World Cup for the first time in their history but they may have to do so without Everton midfielder Sigurdsson. The 28-year-old is undeniably one of the best talents at Heimir Hallgrimsson’s disposal, but a knee ligament injury in March has cast serious doubts over his availability in June.
PAOLO GUERRERO: Peru’s Guerrero was set to miss the World Cup after being hit with a 12-month ban in December for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs but that ban was reduced to six months after an appeal. As such, the former Bayern Munich striker could potentially make the tournament, but he would have just a month to prove his worth.