With the World Cup fast approaching, national team managers and fans of the teams involved hold their breaths every time that one of their players goes down injured.
It seems that the sheer volume of games that are having to be squeezed in to accommodate a November tournament are starting to exact a heavy toll.
Here are some of the latest big names who will not be playing in Qatar.
Paul Pogba (France)
France already knew that they must do without N’Golo Kanté in their defence of the World Cup title that they won in Russia four years ago, but they must also now cope with the absence of his midfield partner Paul Pogba.
He had not played since returning to Juventus from Manchester United in the summer, having injured his knee in training. The 29-year-old had hoped to be fit for the World Cup but tests in Italy and the US have confirmed he will not be ready in time and needs more time to recuperate.
It is unlikely he will play again this year.
Heung-Min Son (South Korea)
South Korea’s World Cup hopes have suffered a significant blow following news that their captain and talisman Heung-min Son is to undergo surgery to stabilise a fracture around his left eye socket.
He suffered the injury playing earlier this week for Tottenham in the Champions League victory away in Marseille when he was caught in the face whilst challenging for a header.
No timeframe has been put on the 30-year old’s recovery. Theoretically, he could play wearing a face mask, although this is likely to diminish his ability to challenge for the ball in the air.
Ben Chilwell (England)
Another Champions League casualty is England’s Ben Chilwell, who limped off the pitch towards the end of Chelsea’s victory over Dinamo Zagreb in tears and clutching his hamstring.
Although it has not been confirmed, his club manager Graham Potter after the match confirmed that the diagnosis was not looking good.
Another Chelsea and England full-back Reece James has been rated doubtful for Qatar after suffering a knee injury in an earlier Champions League tie against AC Milan.
It is another disappointment for Chilwell, who missed almost the entirety of last season with a cruciate ligament injury.
Timo Werner (Germany)
Last season, striker Timo Werner was a teammate of both Chilwell and James at Chelsea before returning to Germany in the summer with RB Leipzig, where he has rediscovered his scoring form.
But he too will be will watching the World Cup on television after becoming yet another Champions League casualty. He was forced off during Leipzig’s victory over Shakhtar Donetsk after falling to the floor clutching his left ankle after completing a routine pass to one of his colleagues.
Scans on Thursday confirmed his worst fears. He has suffered ankle ligament damage and will not play again in this calendar year.
Yuta Nakayama (Japan)
The Japanese full-back is now out for the season after suffering an Achilles injury in mid-week.
On Tuesday, he had been named in Japan’s 26-man squad and was expected to start in their group games against Germany, Costa Rica, and Spain.
But playing for his club side Huddersfield Town in the Championship against Sunderland, he had to be stretchered off, ending his World Cup hopes.
A replacement for him has yet to be named, but now Japan are sweating on the fitness of another defender, Takehiro Tomiyasu.
The 25-year-old came on as second half substitute for Arsenal in their Europa League tie against FC Zurich on Thursday night, but had to be subsequently withdrawn with what was initially diagnosed as a muscular injury.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted after the game that they did not yet know the cause of the problem and more tests need to be carried out. However, there are fears that he too has suffered a hamstring injury which will end his own World Cup hopes.
Who is next?
Although the World Cup starts in just over two weeks’ time and clubs are obliged to release their international players by November 14th at the latest, some teams still have two, or in some cases, three games still to be played before then.
It seems inevitable that some more high profile names will be forced to miss one of the highlights of their playing careers – victims of the decision to hold the tournament in the Middle East in the middle of a domestic season.
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