Salah World Cup return comes with health warning

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Mohamed Salah is expected to return from his shoulder injury for Egypt's World Cup clash against hosts Russia on Tuesday after he sat out the 1-0 opening defeat to Uruguay. But...
AFP
AFP

Mohamed Salah is expected to return from his shoulder injury for Egypt's World Cup clash against hosts Russia on Tuesday after he sat out the 1-0 opening defeat to Uruguay.

But before the north African country's 100 million people celebrate the Liverpool striker as their World Cup saviour, they may want to look at how other star players have fared in similar circumstances in recent times.

AFP Sport picks out five other big names who arrived on football's biggest stage with fitness concerns hanging over them -- and it does not always make pretty reading.

Ronaldo 2002

The Brazilian legend, one of the finest strikers of all time, turned up at the Japan and South Korea World Cup sporting a distinctly odd haircut -- shaved all over but for a tuft at the front. He also turned up with a groin problem and dodgy knee, but more people were obsessed with his hairstyle. Now 41, Ronaldo recently revealed that the haircut was designed to take attention away from his injuries. It worked and he scored eight goals as Brazil lifted the trophy.

Zidane 2002

Like Ronaldo for Brazil, French hopes in 2002 rested on the shoulders of playmaker Zinedine Zidane. But he too was carrying a leg injury, a torn muscle in his left thigh. The problem forced Zidane out of France's opening two games in their defence of the World Cup -- a shock defeat to Senegal and draw with Uruguay. He returned for the must-win last group game sporting heavy strapping on his thigh and clearly not fit. France lost 2-0 to Denmark and were bundled out of the competition.

Beckham 2002

Obviously not a good year for the world's most famous footballers and the Sun tabloid newspaper was desperate enough to print a front-page headline imploring England to pray for midfield maestro David Beckham. "Beck us pray," it said. The Manchester United star had broken a metatarsal -- a bone in his foot -- and had eight weeks to recover. Beckham made the first game, a draw against Sweden but, like his team, was off-colour and subbed. He scored the penalty that beat Argentina but England and Beckham's World Cup ended with quarter-final defeat to Brazil.

Rooney 2006

Six weeks before the tournament in Germany, England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney similarly fractured a metatarsal, putting his World Cup dreams in severe peril. He missed the opening game and England's best forward was rushed back as a substitute in a 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago. Obviously undercooked, he started the next two games but failed to score and then was sent off in the quarter-final against Portugal. England went out on penalties.

Suarez 2014

Before he was thrown out of the 2014 World Cup, the focus on Luis Suarez in Brazil had been on his left knee. A month before the tournament the temperamental but brilliant Uruguay striker hurt his knee in training and needed minor surgery. There seemed little hope he would make the tournament. He missed the opening match, a 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica but miraculously returned five days later and scored twice to condemn England. In the next match he gnawed on Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder.

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Ronaldo won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil

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Zinedine Zidane struggled with fitness at the 2002 World Cup

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England captain David Beckham leaves the pitch after a quarterfinal defeat against Brazil at the 2002 World Cup

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Wayne Rooney played at the 2006 World Cup in Germany just weeks after breaking a bone in his foot

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Uruguay forward Luis Suarez celebrates a goal against England at the 2014 World Cup

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