France have had more than their fair share of injuries to deal with in the build-up to the 2022 World Cup. Well, there’s a fair share, and then there’s this.
Didier Deschamps’ dreams of retaining the title he won in Russia four years ago have been dashed by injury concerns for a number of established international stars.
Les Bleus squad depth will be severely tested in Qatar. Here’s who’s missing from their team.
Paul Pogba has been plagued by injuries since leaving Manchester United in the summer and is yet to make his second debut with Juventus.
The 29-year-old had hoped to recover from a knee injury to be fit in time for the Qatari showpiece, but a thigh problem he picked up during his recovery brought his World Cup dream to an end.
N’Golo Kante is another French midfielder who just cannot stay fit at the moment.
Having spent years patrolling the midfield at Stamford Bridge, the 31-year-old is no longer relied on by Chelsea because of his fitness issues. He’s made only two appearances this season for the Blues due to a hamstring issue that needed surgery.
Presnel Kimpembe has grown into an important figure in central defence for both Paris Saint-Germain and France but is another who couldn’t shake off an injury in time.
The centre back was forced to accept he will miss out this year, having struggled with both hamstring and Achilles problems. He was deemed not fit to participate and replaced in France’s World Cup squad by Axel Disasi.
While he isn’t yet France’s undisuputed starting goalkeeper – Hugo Lloris still captains the side – the absence of AC Milan’s Mike Maignan is a bitter blow for Deschamps.
Two calf injuries mean Maignan hasn’t played since September. The Rossoneri are easing him back into action and he is due back for training in early December.
A maverick presence for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga, Christopher Nkunku played his way into France contention with brilliant performances over in Germany.
42 goals in 52 appearances for Leipzig saw Nkunku win eight international caps in 2022, but a collision with Eduardo Camavinga in training injured his knee and the 25-year-old was ruled out of contention.
Just to top off Deschamps’ lengthy injury list, he has to make do without the most recent Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.
The Real Madrid star led Real Madrid to Champions League and La Liga glory last season but fitness issues plagued him as the World Cup approached. Eventually, a thigh problem picked up in training put an end to his participation, with no replacement selected.