With the World Cup now hours away, the participating teams are under pressure to keep their players fit while having vigorous training sessions. A difficult combo to say the least and sadly a couple of young players have fallen victim to the cause.  Marcus Rashford & Kylian Mbappe have injury concerns with England & France respectively. Here, we take a closer look at the issue.

Marcus Rashford – England

Gareth Southgate recently revealed that England striker Marcus Rashford has sustained a “slight knock” in training just before the start of the World Cup. He hurt his knee during a training game at St George’s Park on Tuesday and the Manchester United striker was still concerned about his soreness when the squad arrived in St Petersburg, for their first look at the training base for the tournament. The 20-year old forward is set to be examined by England’s medical staff on Wednesday to assess any doubts about his involvement in the team’s opening game of the World Cup finals, against Tunisia

The England Manager said that his squad is relishing the opportunity to represent their country on the world stage. “We are representing our country in the greatest sporting tournament there is. We are very proud to do that and we want our country and our fans to recognize that we see that responsibility,” said Southgate.

Rashford, who was named the man of the match in England’s final warm-up game against Costa Rica, is expected to recover soon and claim his spot in the team. The England squad are due to have their first training session at Zelenogorsk on Thursday but Rashford’s involvement is still in doubt, with the priority being to make sure that he is fit for England’s opening game of Group G on Monday.

Kylian Mbappe – France

Kylian Mbappe had to leave France’s training ground on Tuesday after a clash with Adil Rami. The incident comes just a few days before the start of the World Cup. Didier Deschamps‘ players begin their campaign in Russia with Saturday’s match against Australia. The squad was taking part in an open training session at the Glebovets Stadium in Istra when Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe went down following a challenge with defender Adil Rami. The 19-year-old was pictured laying on the floor holding his left ankle before being helped to his feet by staff.

If Mbappe is deemed unfit to compete in Russia, Deschamps will have until 24 hours before France’s opening fixture to replace him in his 23-man squad. Possible replacements would be Alexandre Lacazette or Anthony Martial from his reserve list.

The 19-year old crumpled to the floor after the challenge from Rami and remained on the ground for several minutes as the medical staff assessed the injury. The incident would have caused panic among France fans with the country’s first game of the World Cup taking place on Saturday against Australia. But the young Frenchman has provided a promising update and also sent a reassuring message to Rami. Mbappe took to Twitter after the incident, saying: “I’m fine, it’s just a hit so it doesn’t matter but thanks for your messages. PS: And let my friend Adil Rami be it was not nasty” 

Mbappe has been a pivotal player for France over the last year and has started each of the last seven friendlies, getting 3 goals and 4 assists in that run. Deschamps will hope that the 19-year old sensation gets back to full fitness before the World Cup progresses.

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