The FIFA World Cup 2022 will raise its curtain on 20 November, with the opening contest between hosts Qatar and Ecuador. However, for many top footballers in the world, the World Cup in Qatar is already over due to untimely injuries.

In every edition, several high callibre players miss out from the World Cup due to injury. But in the 2022 edition, the list of injured players is longer than usual.

This year, the World Cup is taking place at the middle of the club football season. Several players have picked up niggles and injuries just days before the tournament while playing for their respective clubs and are unlikely to recover in time for the World Cup.

Out of the many injured players, nine names standout in particular:

Ngolo Kante (France)

Defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante was a crucial member in France’s World Cup winning campaign in 2018, as he consistently killed off opposition attacks and reclaimed the possession of the ball for his team in the midfield.

The defending champions would’ve loved to have their ‘midfield destroyer’ in Qatar but that won’t be possible as the 31-year-old is currently sidelined for four months after undergoing a surgery in October for a hamstring injury.

2022 has been a year riddled with injury for Kante. He has appeared in just two matches for his club Chelsea in the ongoing season of the English Premier League due to injuries.

There still remained a faint hope that he would recover before the World Cup. But that hope withered away on 19 October, when Chelsea announced Kante’s unavailability for the Qatar World Cup.

Timo Werner (Germany)

German striker Timo Werner rediscovered his lost form in front of the goal after returning to old club RB Leipzig in the 2022-23 season following an underwhelming stint at Chelsea.

Werner scored nine goals and made four assists in 16 games this season and was certain to get picked in Germany’s World Cup squad.

But his World Cup dreams came crashing down on 2 November, when he suffered an ankle injury during RB Lepizig’s UEFA Champions League match against Shakhtar Donesk.

Giovani Lo Celso (Argentina)

The Argentine midfielder, who plays for La Liga team Villareal, was an important member of the Albicelestes’ triumphant Copa America campaign last year.

He was expected to resume his duties at the centre of the field for Argentina in the World Cup. But the 26-year-old suffered a hamstring tear during Villareal’s match against Athletico Bilbao on 30 October, which ruled him out of the World Cup.

Reece James (England)

English defender Reece James was all set to head to Qatar with the England team for his maiden World Cup before disaster struck for the young right back.

In October, the Chelsea defender hurt his knee during a Champions League match against AC Milan. The 22-year-old has been in recovery since and even resumed light training. But England coach Gareth Southgate on 10 November said the defender needs more time to fully recover and subsequently ruled him out of the World Cup.

Ben Chilwell (England)

James is not the only English defender in Chelsea who missed the boat to the Qatar World Cup owing to an untimely injury.

Ben Chilwell, also a right-back, suffered a hamstring injury during Chelsea’s Champions League match against Dinamo Zagreb on 2 November.

The 25-year-old will have to go through a lengthy rehabilitation process, which makes him unavailable for selection for the Qatar World Cup.

Marco Reus (Germany)

Burussia Dortmund’s German midfielder Marco Reus has been left out of Germany’s World Cup squad due to an injury to his ankle.

Reus first hurt his ankle in September, during a Bundesliga match against Schalke. He recovered and returned to action for Dortmund, only to further aggravate his injury during a match against Union Berlin on 16 October.

This is the second time Reus is missing a World Cup due to an untimely injury. Previously, he missed out from the FIFA World Cup 2014, the one where Germany won its fourth title.

Paul Pogba (France)

French midfielder Paul Pogba was one of the standout players for France in their World Cup winning campaign in 2018. But the 29-year-old will not get the chance to defend the title with his French teammates in Qatar.

The Juventus player has been out of action since July this year due to a knee injury and has also been embroiled in several off the field controversies.

Pogba was holding out hope to recover before the World Cup. But after a medical review on 1 November, Pogba said he needs more time to fully recover and made himself unavailable for selection.

Diogo Jota (Portugal)

Liverpool’s Portugese forward Diogo Jota’s World Cup dreams came crashing down on 16 October, when he suffered a calf injury during an English Premier League match against Manchester City.

The 25-year-old will remain out of action till January next year and won’t get to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in what could very well be the prolific player’s World Cup swansong.  

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Senegal’s World Cup aspirations were centered around their best player and one of the best forwards in the world, Sadio Mane.

But their dreams received a jolt when their star player suffered a tendon injury while playing for his club Bayern Munich against Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on 8 November.

Bayern Munich physicians initially ruled out all chance of him recovering before the World Cup. But the club’s medical authorities later said that they will again conduct tests on the 30-year-old in a few days to see how the injury has progressed.

Senegal can wait for Mane till 14 November, the deadline for submitting the squad for the World Cup. The Senegalese authorities are hoping against hope for Mane’s quick recovery, with officials even considering going to ‘witch doctors’ in hopes of a miracle.