Preparing for the 2022 World Cup as African champions, Senegal carried the burden of expectations and big dreams. Twenty years after the famous run that established the Lions of Teranga as a footballing power, the West African nation pinned high hopes for the end of another golden generation. And then, on Tuesday, his talisman, Sadio Mané, limped injured off a field in Germany with disappointment written all over his face. And hopes trembled.
As of Wednesday morning, Mané is not definitely excluded from the World Cup. But French newspaper L’Equipe reported that he will miss it. He’s the latest name on a World Cup injury list that’s growing with 12 days until the tournament opener.
Prominent players for Argentina (Giovani Lo Celso), Mexico (Jesús “Tecatito” Corona) and the United States (Chris Richards) were banned on Tuesday. N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba already was. Son Heung-Min and many others are dubious.
They were all taken down by the unprecedented timing of this World Cup. And others could join them on the sidelines over the next six days.
Below is a partial list of the most notable players ruled out or doubtful for the 2022 World Cup. It will be updated as the roster deadline (November 14) and launch date (November 20) approaches.
Players who will miss the World Cup through injury
N’Golo Kante, France — The superhuman midfielder tore his Achilles tendon in August and then aggravated the injury after returning to training in October. He underwent surgery and will be out for 3-4 months.
Paul Pogba, France — France’s midfield maestro suffered a meniscus injury in July. He initially decided against surgery, but later, in consultation with doctors, realized he needed it. As of mid-October he seemed on track to recover just in time for Qatar but his rehab was reportedly put on hold by a muscle injury. With doubts arising, his agent ended any remaining hopes of a miraculous return.
Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, Mexico — Mexico’s soccer federation confirmed what fans think of it on Tuesday El Tri feared: Corona has not yet recovered from his serious leg injury in August and will not join the team in Qatar.
Giovani Lo Celso, Argentina – Lo Celso, a potential midfield starter for Argentina, needs surgery to repair a quad injury and was excluded.
Timo Werner, Germany — Werner was possibly Germany’s starting striker. But he injured his ankle playing for RB Leipzig in the Champions League and that Club says he will miss the rest of the year.
Georginio Wijnaldum, The Netherlands — Wijnaldum broke his shin in August, leaving a hole in Dutch midfield.
Diogo Jota, Portugal – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed on October 18 that Jota, who may have started in Qatar for Portugal, will miss the World Cup after picking up a calf injury in stoppage time against Man City.
Ben Chilwell, England – Chilwell tore his hamstring in the Champions League on Wednesday. Chelsea confirmed on Saturday that he will miss Qatar.
Pedro Neto, Portugal – The Wolves winger injured his ankle in early October.
Boubacar Kamara, France — Karmara would have been a potential Kante replacement for France. But one A ligament injury in his knee has ruled him out of the World Cup.
Miles Robinson, USA — Robinson had established himself as a starting central defender for the USA. Then in May he tore his Achilles tendon.
Chris Richards, USA – Richards was the putative Robinson replacement. But he has played just one first-team game since April. Ahead of the US squad announcement, Richards revealed on Instagram that an ongoing hamstring injury had ruled him out and left him “gutted”.
Sam Vines, USA – Vines was a fringe candidate at best. Now he is not. He announced on Saturday that he had broken his tibia and would be out for 3-4 months.
Injured players who are doubtful for the World Cup
Sadio Mane, Senegal — Mané’s knee injury will reportedly force him to the sidelines for several weeks. Senegal will name their squad on Friday.
Son Heung-min, South Korea – Tottenham have confirmed the South Korean striker suffered a fracture around his left eye in Tuesday’s win against Marseille. He underwent surgery a few days later. There is no timetable for his return.
Romelu Lukaku, Belgium — Lukaku worked his way back from a hamstring injury, only to suffer another hamstring injury shortly after his return. He hasn’t started a game since August.
Raphael Varane, France — The diagnosis was a hamstring injury, which Varane will sideline for 3-4 weeks. And it will leave France coach Didier Deschamps with a very difficult choice. If fit, Varane could start at centre-back. But that’s a big “if” now.
Mike Maignan, France — The AC Milan goalkeeper, thought to have started ahead of Hugo Lloris for France, was ruled out… and then he wasn’t… his World Cup status appears to be at stake.
Reece James, England – James, who would likely have started at right-back for England, injured his knee playing for Chelsea in October and will be out for around two months. His club manager Graham Potter hasn’t ruled him out of the World Cup for good, but James will almost certainly not be in Qatar.
Kyle Walker, England — Walker, another of England’s many right-back defenders, had groin surgery in early October. He hopes to be fit by the end of November but is in a race against time.
Kalvin Phillips, England – Phillips started for England at Euros last summer but has since struggled with a number of injuries. He opted to have shoulder surgery in early autumn and has not played for Manchester City since. The club have expressed optimism that he will return soon but he remains a question in a couple of weeks.
Raul Jimenez, Mexico — Jimenez has had a hell of a few years with injuries. He is on the provisional 31-man list, like Corona, but is looking increasingly doubtful for Qatar.
Mikel Oyarzabal, Spain — Oyarzabal tore his ACL in March and has been in doubt ever since. But a stunning return isn’t entirely out of the question.
Sardar Azmoun, Iran – Bayer Leverkusen said Azmoun, one of Iran’s star strikers, “is expected to be out of action for six to eight weeks” after tearing a calf muscle on October 4 have rehabilitated in Dubai. His World Cup status is uncertain.
Ronald Araujo, Uruguay – The Barcelona defender is considered doubtful after tearing a thigh muscle while playing for Uruguay on September 23. The following week he underwent surgery in Finland. He is expected to be out until the New Year but neither club nor country have given a concrete timetable.
Pepe, Portugal — The 39-year-old centre-back was still a potential starter for Portugal despite his age. But he is out with a sprained knee and a timely recovery for Qatar looks increasingly unlikely.
This page will be updated with more injury news over the coming month.