Can World Cup teams replace injured players?

With so many matches, injuries are always an unfortunate by-product of the World Cup.

After a few days of action in the ranks, we have seen one serious injury, several concussions and a scare for the England captain.

Lucas Hernandez’s World Cup, perhaps his season, ended too soon with 13 minutes left in France’s win over Australia. The Bayern Munich defender has been confirmed to have suffered serious knee damage as the Socceroos opened the scoring.

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Meanwhile, there is cause for concern in the England camp The Athletic Harry Kane has revealed he has been scheduled for a scan on his leg after taking a side-kick against Iran.

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

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

Unfortunately, squads cannot be changed at this time.

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


France can’t replace Lucas Hernandez in their squad (Photo by Jean Cutuff/Getty Images)

This means that at the time of writing, the teams playing on Thursday can still make changes. However, there are rules that prevent managers from making any changes they want.

After the squads were announced by FIFA – before the start of the World Cup on Tuesday – the only way a player could be substituted was if they were injured or ill. FIFA’s chief medical officer then had to determine that any injury or illness was serious enough to rule a player out of the World Cup.

Several teams used this decision in the final days before the start of the tournament, as players were cruelly robbed of their World Cup dreams by late injuries.

Randal Kolo Muani was one of the players forced out of the squad as Christopher Nkunku picked up an injury ahead of training in Qatar. Didier Deschamps may hope to do the same with Lucas Hernandez, but he no longer has that luxury.

What are the options for England and France?

England will hope they have no choice. There were no concerns about Kane’s leg after the game.

In fact, he did not come off the field until the 75th minute when he was injured in the 48th minute following a heavy tackle from Morteza Puraliganji, and was replaced by Callum Wilson.

Gareth Southgate was not worried about the situation after the match, but there is now some concern about his fitness in the camp. The Three Lions captain looks set to be ruled out for the rest of the World Cup, but could miss Friday’s Group B clash against the USA.

That means either Wilson – whose injury record is woeful – or Marcus Rashford could replace him in the starting XI against Gregg Berhalter’s side.

In the French camp, the situation is much clearer. Lucas Hernandez will no longer play in the World Cup and although he will not be replaced in the team, he will have to be replaced in the team.

Against Australia on Tuesday, he was replaced by his brother Theo and that will surely continue as the tournament continues. Deschamps was asked questions ahead of the match about his choice of Lucas over Theo at left-back, so if nothing else, it will make the manager’s life easier.

An injury or suspension for Theo would be a nightmare for the France boss as the squad has no other cover in the position as Real Madrid’s Ferlan Mendy remains at home.

In the absence of Theo Hernandez, this will force Deschamps to work with wing-backs rather than full-back or move one of his left-footed midfielders – Adrien Rabiot or Eduardo Camavinga – to the left-back position.

(Top photo: Mark Atkins/Getty Images)



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