Neymar, Harry Kane and Manuel Neuer, stars football injured stars facing race to be fit for the World Cup in Russia
With just 88 days until the big kick-off, anticipation is mounting ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
But for some players currently out injured, that ticking clock to the tournament represents a fraught race to get back to full fitness in time to make their nation’s squad.
We take a look at some of the players who need to regain their fitness in order to make the greatest tournament.
Harry Kane star football injured his right
How did it happen? Kane injured his right ankle in a collision with Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic during Tottenham’s 4-1 win at the Vitality Stadium last Sunday.
Both the striker and the goalkeeper were going for the ball when Kane’s leg got caught underneath Begovic. Kane wanted to continue initially, but was eventually forced to hobble off.
He left the stadium on crutches and scans once the swelling had subsided revealed ankle ligament damage that will keep him out until April.
This was welcome news for both club and country though Kane, who has scored 39 goals this season, will need to regain full sharpness in time for the World Cup.
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Kane damaged his ankle ligaments in a collision with the Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic
What are they saying? Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said: ‘He is very positive. He was positive after the game. His character is always optimistic and he is focused on trying to recover as soon as possible.
‘It is no excuse now that Harry is out for a few weeks that we are not going to have the same mentality and try and win the games.
‘Of course, we are going to miss Harry because it is obvious he is one of the best. But we are calm and relaxed because we have enough quality to play and win games.’
Will he make it? Yes, Kane should be back fit – and hopefully firing – to lead England’s challenge at the World Cup.
The signs are that Kane will be back towards the end of April but the whole nation will be hoping he doesn’t suffer any more injury setbacks before the World Cup.
Neymar star football injured his leg right
In Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-0 Ligue 1 win over Marseille on February 25, Neymar went down in a heap and suffering a hairline fracture to his fifth metatarsal and a sprained ankle.
The Brazilian star returned home at the beginning of this month and underwent surgery in Belo Horizonte before beginning a process of rehabilitation that has seen him use a wheelchair.
The recovery is being overseen by Brazil and PSG physiotherapist Rafael Martini, who has worked with Neymar since he started his career at Santos.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer star football injured his foot three times in the past 12 months
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has missed most of the season with a metatarsal fracture
What has been the impact? Initially, his absence seemed to throw Bayern off their stride a little. When they lost 3-0 at PSG in the Champions League back in September, it meant the end for coach Carlo Ancelotti.
But Jupp Heynckes has restored them to their best form and with Sven Ulreich deputising in goal, Bayern have swept aside all-comers on the domestic front and they’re into the quarter-finals of the Champions League too.
They have conceded just 18 goals all season in the Bundesliga, where they presently enjoy a 20-point advantage at the top, they’re into the semi-finals of the German Cup, and they just thrashed Besiktas 8-1 over two legs in Europe.
Neuer helped Germany to World Cup glory back in 2014 as they beat Argentina in the final
What are they saying? Neuer told Sky Sport Bundesliga this week: ‘I know things are coming along very well, but of course there’s still time until I’ll be at full strength.
‘I can’t say right now exactly how long that’s going to be. I’m currently at around 80 per cent of my body weight at five km/h on the treadmill and that’s going up all the time.
‘I expect to be walking at up to 90 per cent without any problems next week, and then be up to 100 per cent the week after, then I’ll slowly start running. My walking profile is pretty good, and I’m not feeling any pain.
‘I’m pretty confident I’ll be playing again in the second half of the season.’
Will he make it? All expectations are that Neuer will be back fit again before the end of the season but the question for both Low and Heynckes is whether he can simply be thrown straight into the thick of the action.
Following such a disrupted season, Neuer could well be short of full match sharpness and given Bayern face important Champions League matches, it could be something of a risk.
The good news is they have pretty much wrapped up the league title, so Neuer could play in the dead rubbers once they’ve sealed the crown.
But Low may need some more convincing – although Neuer is one of the best keepers in the world, he hasn’t played international football in so long that it would represent a gamble to start him at the World Cup.
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