Six most heartbreaking pre-World Cup injuries from Michael Ballack to Marco Reus

Sadio Mane has become the latest high-profile footballer to suffer a heartbreaking injury which will keep him out of the World Cup.

With less than two weeks to go until the tournament begins in Qatar, Senegal's all-time leading goalscorer is now expected to miss out after suffering a leg injury playing for Bayern Munich on Tuesday night. Although the German club have only so far confirmed that he will miss their next match on Saturday, Mane is now a major doubt to be fit for the World Cup.

He is not the first player to be forced to miss out on football's biggest tournament, though, and here are six of the most heartbreaking pre-World Cup injuries.

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Sadio Mane

Mane had been set to star for Senegal at a second consecutive World Cup later this month after scoring for the Lions of Teranga in Russia four years ago.

He remains the national team's star man and helped guide his country to Africa Cup of Nations glory earlier this year. However, he is now expected to miss the World Cup.

Mane is said to have suffered an injury "to the head of his right fibula" in Bayern's win over Werder Bremen on Tuesday with further tests on the injury expected later this week. Bayern have also said they are in contact with Senegal's medical staff, with their campaign set to begin against the Netherlands in just 12 days time.

Reece James

Another player who is set to be absent from the upcoming World Cup in Qatar is England and Chelsea full-back Reece James.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has told James that he will not be included in his 26-man squad after failing to recover from the knee injury he picked up against AC Milan last month.

James had undergone intensive rehabilitation in Dubai in a bid to speed up his recovery process but it was not enough and in a statement on social media he admitted he is "devastated" to miss out. He joins the likes of Ben Chilwell, Diogo Jota, Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante in missing the tournament.

Michael Ballack

Back in 2010, Michael Ballack missed out on a final shot at winning the World Cup when he was injured in the FA Cup final just weeks before the tournament.

The German midfielder was left with an ankle injury after a challenge from Portsmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng, with Ballack's ankle so swollen it could not even be scanned the day after the match.

Ballack later stated, via The Guardian, that it "wasn't a good tackle" and he would never play for his country again. In his absence, Germany finished third after being beaten by Spain in the semi-finals.

Marco Reus

Ballack is not the only German midfielder to miss a World Cup through injury, with Marco Reus suffering the same fate four years later in 2014.

Reus has struggled with injuries throughout his career, which have also seen him play at just two major tournaments in the past. He had looked set to appear at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, though, after making Germany's 23-man squad.

However, he suffered a ligament tear in his left ankle in a warm-up match against Armenia on the eve of the tournament and was replaced by defender Shkodran Mustafi. Even worse for Reus, Germany went on to win the tournament without him.

Wayne Rooney

Unlike the others on this list, Wayne Rooney was able to recover in time to appear at the 2006 World Cup just weeks after being stretchered off in tears against Chelsea.

Rooney fractured his metatarsal playing for Manchester United in May 2006 and faced a dramatic race against time to be fit enough to go to the tournament.

Although he missed out on England's opening match against Paraguay, he made his return off the bench against Trinidad and Tobago, just six weeks after suffering the injury.

Rio Ferdinand

His former United team-mate Rio Ferdinand was not so lucky, though, after suffering a knee ligament injury in June 2010.

The defender was ruled out of the tournament in South Africa after picking up the injury in England's first training session at their camp in Rustenburg.

Ferdinand had been set to captain the Three Lions at that year's World Cup too, before he was sidelined for eight weeks when he stretched to tackle Emile Heskey in the closing stages of a routine session.


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