AFP/Santa Clara, United States
The Copa America Centenario is facing a mounting injury crisis involving its biggest stars after James Rodriguez joined Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez amongst the ranks of the walking wounded.
A tournament billed as a gathering of world football’s biggest names has been hit by a series of injuries and withdrawals with the 16-team competition being held in the United States only two days old.
Argentina captain Messi is the biggest name hampered by injury, with the Barcelona superstar struggling to shake off a back problem sustained during a friendly win over Honduras last month.
Messi is regarded as doubtful for Argentina’s opening Group D game against Chile at the Levi’s Stadium today.
Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Suarez is also in doubt for Uruguay’s opener against Mexico on Sunday, still troubled by a hamstring problem sustained during Barcelona’s Copa del Rey final victory.
Real Madrid star Rodriguez is the latest to suffer an injury scare, having been substituted in the second half of Colombia’s 2-0 win over the United States in Santa Clara on Friday.
Rodriguez left the field clutching his shoulder.
He was later seen being ferried away from the team’s changing room at the Levi’s Stadium on a motorized buggy, with what looked like a problem to his left arm.
Colombia’s Argentina coach Jose Pekerman was cautiously optimistic that Rodriguez’s injury would not keep him out of Tuesday’s game with Paraguay at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
“I hope that it’s not a complicated situation,” Pekerman said.
“I hope as time goes by we will have a clearer idea of the problem. I don’t want to think about the negative, let’s be positive and hope he plays.”
Colombia striker Carlos Bacca admitted losing Rodriguez would be a blow for “Los Cafeteros”.
“I hope we have good news because it is our captain, he’s an important player for us,” Bacca said.
As well as Messi, Rodriguez and Suarez, the Copa America — which is being held in the United States to mark the tournament’s 100th anniversary — Costa Rica’s Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas has also been ruled out through injury.
Brazil have also been afflicted by injuries and absentees.
Striker Neymar pulled out of the tournament in order to play in the Olympics while five members of Dunga’s squad have been forced to withdraw because of injury, including Kaka and Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa.
Other players ruled out through injury include Ricardo Oliveira Santos, goalkeeper Ederson and Barcelona midfielder Rafinha. A big blow to the fans.
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