With the 2018 World Cup in Russia less then three months away, there are numerous Premier League stars sweating on whether they’ll be playing at this summer’s tournament.
Injuries, loss of form and a lack of playing time at club level are amongst the main reasons why players can miss out on major championships, and there’s some high-profile names worried about what might happen over the next few weeks.
Read on as we take a look at four Premier League players who are hoping they’ll be on the plane to Russia in June.
Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur & England
The influential Spurs striker is expected to be out until at least the middle of April after damaging lateral ligaments in his right ankle against Bournemouth.
The England star will miss internationals against Netherlands on Friday and the Wembley clash with Italy the following Tuesday.
Kane has suffered two similar injuries to the same joint in the past and although this latest setback is not as bad as his previous knocks, national team boss Gareth Southgate will be desperate for Kane to navigate the rest of the season unscathed.
The 24-year-old has scored 35 goals in 39 games for his club this term and he is crucial to England’s hopes of progressing to the latter stages of the World Cup.
Benjamin Mendy – Manchester City & France
The French defender ruptured his knee ligaments against Crystal Palace back in September and he has not played since.
The 23-year-old stepped up his recovery from the injury by returning to training with City at the start of March, but it remains to be seen whether he can force his way back into the first team,
Mendy made an impressive start at City following his £49.1 million move from Monaco last summer, but made only five appearances before being sidelined.
France boss Didier Deschamps has indicated he is willing to be patient where Mendy is concerned, although a lack of game time could prevent Mendy from making one of the most important football trips a player can make.
Joe Hart – West Ham United & England
Hart’s experience at international level could yet see him selected as England’s number one goalkeeper, but his lack of playing time with West Ham United is a major concern.
The 30-year-old played in the Premier League for the first time since November in the Hammers’ recent 3-0 defeat against Burnley and there are a host of keepers lining up to replace him in the England team.
Jordan Pickford (Everton), Jack Butland (Stoke City) and Nick Pope (Burnley) are all hoping to be included in Southgate’s squad, but Hart will be desperate for the England boss to remain loyal when he names his final 23 players for Russia.
Christian Benteke – Crystal Palace and Belgium
Recent reports in Belgium suggested that Benteke will need a ‘miracle’ if he is to make Belgium’s World Cup squad and it’s easy to see why.
Benteke has scored just two goals in 25 Premier League starts this year and although he had a decent game in Palace’s 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town his hopes of going to Russia look slim.
Roberto Martinez left Benteke out of his latest squad for their upcoming friendly with Saudi Arabia and it would take a major turnaround in form for him to force his way back in.
With Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard, Michy Batshuayi and Divock Origi all vying for forward roles, Benteke could well be the odd man out.
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