Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
Critics of the international break unite.
The excitement of another round of World Cup qualifiers came at a price for several Premier League clubs vying for a chance to hoist the league trophy in May.
Virtually no Premier League title contender escaped unscathed, proving once again that there’s no escaping injuries when players answer the call of their respective countries.
Although there’s still a significant portion of the season to be played, squad depth will be tested during a period when clubs attempt to juggle Premier League and European duties before the next break rears its ugly head.
With the Premier League resuming this weekend, here’s a look at five players whose absence could prove costly in the long run:
N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
If the report is true, the club could have Kante back in time for a crucial encounter with Manchester United on Nov. 5. Luckily, the Blues have a relatively painless slate of matches before Jose Mourinho brings his men to Stamford Bridge, as they’ll take on Crystal Palace, Watford, and Bournemouth.
Sadio Mane – Liverpool
Mane was bitten by the injury bug while on duty with Senegal and looks set to miss up to six weeks with a hamstring injury after travelling back to England, where the club’s medical staff delivered the disappointing news.
However, Klopp only has to look back to last season to ease his concern, after Liverpool put together a respectable run – collecting 17 points out of a possible 24 – when Mane’s debut season with Liverpool ended prematurely through injury.
Marouane Fellaini – Manchester United
The timing couldn’t have been worse for Marouane Fellaini to go down with an injury.
After a rough start to his Manchester United career, Fellaini was finally starting to win over supporters with a series of promising performances in the build-up to the international break – including his Man of the Match display, when his brace fuelled Mourinho’s men to a decisive win over lowly Crystal Palace.
But now it appears the imposing midfielder will be forced to watch from the stands for the next couple of weeks after picking up an MCL sprain during Belgium‘s dramatic win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It’s far from ideal as Mourinho prepares his side to take on rival Liverpool ahead of United’s Champions League away match against Benfica four days later.
Fortunately, Romelu Lukaku should be available after fears over an ankle problem were lifted when he appeared in Belgium’s final qualifier Monday.
Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal
The blow is compounded by the fact that Arsenal appears likely to be without Shkodran Mustafi for a significant period because of an apparent thigh muscle tear – an injury he suffered during Germany‘s win over Azerbaijan.
Dejan Lovren – Liverpool
Although he’s expected to get the nod against Manchester United, there’s no guarantee the 28-year-old will be effective as he attempts to contain the Premier League’s second-highest-scoring team.