Argentina do not have a replacement ready for midfielder Giovani Lo Celso, who is in danger of missing the World Cup due to a hamstring injury, coach Lionel Scaloni said.
They are already worried about injuries to Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria, but losing Lo Celso, a key player in their Copa America victory and World Cup qualification, would be a huge blow.
Lo Celso is a crucial part of Scaloni’s midfield lineup alongside Leandro Paredes and Rodrigo de Paul.
“Numerically there is a replacement, but not football-wise,” Scaloni told TyC Sports. “There are others with other skills, but it shows that he has given us a lot.”
Lo Celso, 26, was substituted this Sunday in the 24th minute of Villarreal’s LaLiga match against Athletic Bilbao and the initial diagnosis showed a muscle tear.
Spanish media reported that Villarreal will provide a final update on Monday, and Scaloni said there was no point in taking him to Argentina for evaluation.
“He is being cared for there, with trained people. I want him to arrive healthy.”
Scaloni also highlighted the risks of playing the World Cup in the middle of a season and complained about the number of club games players had to play in October.
“That’s what it means to play a World Cup in the middle of a championship with a crazy month of October, with games every three days,” he added. “And then give you the players three days before the start of a World Cup.
“Whoever gets on the plane will be in a position to play the first game… but there are some variations that we have to evaluate depending on the positions.”
Argentina plays a warm-up match against the United Arab Emirates on November 16 before its World Cup Group C opener against Saudi Arabia on November 22. They will also face Mexico and Poland in the group stage.
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