Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez eyeing crucial Chile World Cup qualifier despite 'terrible' ankle injury

James Benge
Evening Standard
Sanchez in action for Chile in November: AFP/Getty Images
Sanchez in action for Chile in November: AFP/Getty Images

Alexis Sanchez appears to be targeting a swift return from injury in time for Chile’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Argentina.

The Arsenal forward suffered an ankle injury during the first half of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at West Brom with his manager Arsene Wenger revealing that he had wanted to substitute Sanchez at half-time.

Sanchez has always been loath to miss international duty – playing for Chile in November despite Wenger warning that do so would be “suicidal” – and he has suggested he is desperate to feature in the match against Argentina in Buenos Aires on March 23.

Writing on Instagram in a post tagged in Santiago, Chile, Sanchez captioned a photo of himself with the phrase: “The only failure is not to try.”

El único fracaso Es No intentarlo... ⚽️🇨🇱

A post shared by Alexis Sanchez (@alexis_officia1) on Mar 20, 2017 at 9:56am PDT

Speaking after the defeat at the Hawthorns Wenger feared that Sanchez had suffered a particularly severe injury but acknowledged he was powerless to stop Juan Antonio Pizzi from using his star forward.

“He was injured from the tackle in the first half,” Wenger said. “It’s a bad tackle. His ankle is in a terrible state.

“He should not have played in the second half. He insisted that he wanted to come out.

““In the first half he was the one who created the chances, many dangerous situations, and you could see in the second half he couldn’t anymore. In the end we had to take him off but he should not have even played.

“Chile goes to Argentina for a massive game but it’s not until next week,” Wenger told Standard Sport. “If it’s only a kick he will play.

“His ankle is swollen. If the ligament is damaged he will not play.”

With six games remaining in the South American qualifying competition Chile sit a point clear of Argentina in the fourth and final guaranteed place for the 2018 World Cup. Whichever side finishes fifth would face a play-off to secure their passage to Russia but, with sixth-placed Colombia lurking close behind, the margins are tight for the CONMEBOL side.

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