Can World Cup teams replace injured players?

Injuries will always be an unfortunate by-product of a World Cup due to the sheer volume of games.

After a few days of action in Qatar we’ve already seen a serious injury, a couple of concussions and a scare for the England captain.

Lucas Hernandez’s World Cup and likely his season ended extremely prematurely just 13 minutes after France’s win over Australia. It has been confirmed that the FC Bayern Munich defender suffered serious knee injuries in the course of the Socceroos’ shot on goal.

Meanwhile, there is cause for concern in the English camp the athlete announced that Harry Kane is set for a scan of his ankle after being hit in his side’s opening game against Iran.

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Can either team or country replace their injured players? Read on to find out.

Can Harry Kane or Lucas Hernandez be replaced at the World Cup?

Unfortunately, rosters cannot be changed at this time.

The deadline for changes was 24 hours before each country’s first game in the tournament; Sunday for England and Monday for France.

France will not be able to replace Lucas Hernandez in their squad (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

This means that as of this writing, teams playing on Thursday can still make changes. However, there are rules that prevent managers from making any changes.

After the squads were released by FIFA – on the Tuesday before the start of the World Cup – the only option was to replace a player if he was injured or ill. FIFA’s Medical General then had to determine whether an injury or illness was serious enough to exclude a player for the duration of the World Cup.

Several teams made use of this regulation in the last few days before the start of the tournament, when the players’ dream of the World Cup was cruelly stolen by late injuries.

Christopher Nkunku was one of the players to be substituted on the eve of kick-off in Qatar as a training injury forced him out of the squad and Randal Kolo Muani took his place. Didier Deschamps may be hoping to do the same with Lucas Hernandez but he no longer has that luxury.

What options do England and France have?

England will hope they don’t have to make a choice. After the game, there were no real worries about Kane’s ankle problems.

In fact, he sustained the injury in the 48th minute after a tough tackle from Morteza Pouraliganji and only left the field in the 75th minute when he was replaced by Callum Wilson.

Gareth Southgate wasn’t worried about the situation after the game but now there are obviously some concerns about his fitness at camp. It seems unlikely that the Three Lions captain will be out for the remainder of the World Cup, but he could miss Friday’s Group B clash with USA.

That would mean Wilson – whose injury record is notoriously sad – or Marcus Rashford would likely start in his place against Gregg Berhalter’s side.

In the French camp, the situation is much clearer. Lucas Hernandez will not play another role in the World Cup and while he cannot be replaced in the squad, he must be replaced in the team.

He was replaced by his brother Theo against Australia on Tuesday and will almost certainly remain so as the tournament progresses. Questions were asked of Deschamps ahead of the game as he chose Lucas against Theo on the left side of defence, not least making the manager’s life easier.

However, an injury or suspension for Theo would be a nightmare for the France coach as there is no other cover for that position in the squad as Ferland Mendy has been left at home by Real Madrid.

In the event of Theo Hernandez’s possible absence, that would perhaps force Deschamps to work with full-backs instead of full-backs or move one of his left-footed midfielders – Adrien Rabiot or Eduardo Camavinga – to the left-back position.

(Top Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)


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