Injuries will be an unfortunate consequence of the World Cup because of the high volume of games.
After a few days in Qatar, we’ve already had one serious injury, several concussions and a scare for the England captain.
Lucas Hernandez’s World Cup, and perhaps his season, ended far too soon when France won against Australia just 13 minutes from time. It has been confirmed that the Bayern Munich defender suffered a serious knee injury during the team’s opener.
At the same time, there is reason to worry in the English camp Athletic Harry Kane has announced that he will undergo a scan on his ankle after being struck in the opener against Iran.
Can either team or either country replace their injured players? Read on to find out.
Could Harry Kane and Lucas Hernandez be swapped for the World Cup?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to change the team now.
The deadline for changes was 24 hours before the first match of each country’s tournament; Sunday for England and Monday for France.
This means that at the time of writing, the teams playing on Thursday are subject to change. However, there are rules that limit managers from making the desired changes.
FIFA released the squad on the Tuesday before the start of the World Cup, with the only option being to replace a player injured or ill. FIFA’s chief medical officer then had to determine whether any injury or illness was serious enough to rule the player out of the World Cup.
Several teams took advantage of this decision in the final days before the tournament, with players cruelly robbed of their World Cup dreams by late injuries.
Randal Kolo Muani was replaced by one of the players who had to be replaced just before the start of the Qatar match after Christopher Nkunku picked up an injury in training. Didier Deschamps can hope to do the same with Lucas Hernandez, but he no longer has that luxury.
What are the English and French options?
The English hope they have no choice. There were no concerns about Kane’s ankle after the match.
In fact, he didn’t leave the field until the 75th minute, when he was replaced by Callum Wilson after picking up an injury in the 48th minute after a strong challenge from Morteza Pooraliganji.
Gareth Southgate wasn’t worried about the post-match situation, but is now clearly worried about his fitness. The Three Lions captain looks set to be ruled out for the rest of the World Cup, but he could miss Friday’s Group B game against the USA.
That means Wilson or Marcus Rashford, whose injury woes are dire, could be in the starting XI in his place against Gregg Berhalter.
In the French camp, the situation is much clearer. Lucas Hernandez will no longer play in the World Cup and will have to replace him in the squad, even if he cannot be replaced in the finals.
His older brother Theo replaced him against Australia on Tuesday, and that will almost certainly continue. There were questions asked of Deschamps ahead of the game, and his selection of Lucas over Theo on the left side of defense will make the manager’s life easier.
Although Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy has been left at home, injuries and suspensions for Theo will be a nightmare for the French manager.
The absence of Theo Hernandez could force Deschamps to operate on the wing rather than at full-back or move one of his left-footed midfielders, Adrien Rabiot or Eduardo Camavinga, to the left wing.
(Top photo: Mark Atkins/Getty Images)