The 2022 World Cup is getting ever closer, and the world's top players are now tip-toeing their way through the final domestic club matches before the tournament starts on November 20.
Injuries have already hit a number of big names who sadly won't be featuring in Qatar, plus there's a whole host of big names who missed out through their countries' failure to qualify.
Planet Sport reviews the top players who definitely aren't going to the World Cup, those who face a nervous wait to get on the plane if they recover from injury in time and those who simply haven't been selected.
Injured players missing the 2022 World Cup
Paul Pogba (France)
Since re-joining Juventus from Manchester United, the midfielder hasn't played a minute of football for the Old Lady and isn't set to do so until after the World Cup.
Pogba has undergone knee surgery which has prevented him from playing this season, and his absence will severely dampen France's chances of reclaiming the World Cup.
N'Golo Kante (France)
Kante has had a meteoric rise to the top after his Premier League title winning season with Leicester and the World Cup with France in 2018.
The midfielder played only two games for Chelsea this season before injuring his hamstring in August.
He will be sorely missed by France in Qatar as he is often the spine of the team that holds them together. Big holes in the French midfield.
Reece James (England)
England will be at least one right-back down this winter with James set to be out for at least eight weeks after injuring his knee during a Champions League match.
Fortunately, England have a large amount of depth in right-back in Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Tripper, but the team still have been in much better shape if James was available.
Ben Chilwell (England)
The 25-year-old suffered a hamstring injury in the Chelsea' 2-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb.
Chilwell missed a good chunk of the 2021/22 season through injury and despite only having won 17 caps leaves England a little short at left back.
Diogo Jota (Portugal)
Diogo Jota recently sustained an injury during Liverpool's game against Manchester City which, as confirmed by the player himself, meant that he won't be able to compete in the World Cup. This would have been Jota's debut in a World Cup as his first call up to Portugal national team was in March 2019.
Pedro Neto (Portugal)
Another big blow to Portugal's chances of delivering a World Cup to Cristiano Ronaldo (coz that's what it's all about surely?!?). Neto was a solid squad player that could play anywhere across the attack.
The Wolves winger underwent ankle surgery and won't recover in time for the World Cup this year.
Jesus Corona (Mexico)
Sevilla's Jesus Corona will also be absent from this year's tournament as he fractured his ankle in summer after joining the Spanish side from Porto in January. Corona has still been added to Gerardo Martino's preliminary 31-man-squad as he is one of Mexico's key players. However, it is looking unlikely that he will make the final 23-man-squad.
Georgino Wijnaldum (Netherlands)
Shortly after joining Rome on loan in the summer after a torrid season in France's capital, Georgino Wijnaldum suffered a tibia fracture during training which has ruled him out of the World Cup this winter. He is currently set to be out for five months as long as his rehabilitation goes to plan.
Timo Werner (Germany)
An ankle ligament injury during RB Leipzig's Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk ended Werner's World Cup dreams. The former Chelsea striker was forced off after just 19 minutes of the 4-0 win on Wednesday evening.
Phillipe Coutinho (Brazil)
The Aston Villa midfielder suffered a thigh injury, before the 3-1 win over Manchester United, that will keep him out of the entire tournament.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Spain)
The Chelsea keeper was ruled out of the tournament with a foot injury he picked up in the 4-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion in late October.
The World Cup doubts
Paulo Dybala (Argentina)
The Argentine attacker made a move to Roma in summer and before his injury, formed a good partnership with fan favourite Tammy Abraham. His manager, Jose Mourinho, stated in an interview that Dybala's injury was 'very bad' so it is looking unlikely that he will be present in Qatar.
Players who haven't been picked for the World Cup
Centre backs Tyrone Mings, Joe Gomez, Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori weren't selected in Gareth Southgate's 26-man squad.
In midfield James Ward-Prowse and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were left out, while in the forward department Brentford's Ivan Toney, West Ham's Jarrod Bowen and Manchester United Jadon Sancho also missed the cut.
Sevilla's Adnan Januzaj misses out.
Head coach Tite ignored 31-year-old Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino, who has not featured for his country since the Copa America final in July 2021.
Arsenal defender Gabriel, Nottingham Forest full-back Renan Lodi, Roma defender Roban Ibanez and Atletico Madrid's Matheus Cunha also missed the final cut.
Joelinton was also overlooked by Brazil despite excelling in central midfield at Newcastle, although he is yet to make an appearance for the national side.
Manchester United striker Anthony Martial (30 caps) and Aston Villa's Lucas Digne (46 caps) and Boubacar Kamara (3 caps) have missed out. Leeds keeper Illan Meslier was also not selected.
Defender Mats Hummels (76 caps), who played at the last two tournaments, has been left out, while Dortmund captain Marco Reus misses out on another World Cup with an ankle injury.
Donny Van de Beek was snubbed by the Dutch boss Louis van Gaal, due to lack of game time at Old Trafford.
Sven Botman also failed to convice Van Gaal of his place in the squad despite impressive performances for Newcastle United. Bayern Munich star midfielder Ryan Gravenberch also missed the cut. Brian Brobbey, Guus Til, Micky van de Ven, Devyne Rensch and Mitchel Bakker were also overlooked.
PSG midfielder Renato Sanches was left out, as injury has limited his appearances this season, while Goncalo Guedes also missed out.
Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea miss out.
De Gea has not made an international appearance for two years, while Thiago last played at Euro 2020.
Paris St-Germain defender Sergio Ramos also wasn't selected.
Sheffield United defender Rhys Norrington-Davies misses out with a hamstring injury, while QPR's Tyler Roberts has only scored once in 12 games for QPR. Rangers winger Rabbi Matondo also failed to make the final cut, after failing to open his account in Scotland since joining the club from Schalke this summer.
Former stalwarts Tom Rogic (53 caps) and Trent Sainsbury (58 caps) didn't make the Socceroos squad.
Players whose teams didn't qualify
Erling Haaland and Martin Odegaard (Norway) Starting off with one of the biggest names in world football - Erling Haaland. The Norwegian has been setting the Premier League alight this year. Fortunately, for defenders, the towering striker won't be present at this year's World Cup as Norway failed to qualify. The 22-year-old only played in six out of 10 possible qualifiers and without him Norway only managed to win one. His talent will be a big miss on football's grandest stage. Haaland and Odegaard are Norway's dynamic duo. The number 10 will often sit behind the striker and link up the play for the entire team. The pair will be a sore miss from this year's competition, however, they will have their eyes set on Euro 2024 qualification to prove themselves on the international stage.
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Egypt have had a torrid time during 2022. Not only have they missed out on the AFCON trophy to Senegal but, they also lost in Africa's World Cup play-off final.
Over the course of the Premier League season so far, Mohamed Salah hasn't performed to the high standards expected of him from previous years and Liverpool have struggled to keep up with Premier League pacesetters Arsenal and Manchester City.
Egypt will now be setting their sights on AFCON qualification when they take on Malawi on March 20 2023. Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa and Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy) Despite beating England in the Euro 2020 final, Italy won't be at the Qatar World Cup this year. Only the second time in 64 years that Italy haven't qualified for the World Cup.
Roberto Mancini's side displayed an intriguing style of play during Euro 2020 with the manager including players with experience and many youth prospects.
But that all came undone in World Cup qualifying, as they finished second behind Switzerland in their group and then surprisingly lost to North Macedonia in the play-offs semi-finals. Qatar would have been Immobile's last chance to appear at a World Cup as he turns 33 in February and is close to retiring from international football. Chiesa highlighted his talent in Euro 2020 and was one of Italy's most influential players, causing havoc against every opponent he faced. In the debate for the world's best goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma has cemented his position as Paris Saint-Germain's number one, and it is unlikely that this will change any time soon. At 23 we'll no doubt see him again on the world stage. Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez (Colombia) Colombia are yet another team who won't be appearing in this year's World Cup, despite their team being stocked full of talent and Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez are no exception. Cuadrado currently plays for Juventus and is one of the first names on the team sheet. He has showcased his talent in many countries although, he seems to have found his home in Italy. Meanwhile, Rodriguez has dropped out of the media limelight since leaving Everton and making his way to Qatari club Al-Rayyan and now Olympiakos. In previous World Cup's, the attacking-midfielder was a star for the South American side. In 2014 he won the Golden Boot and during the 2018 tournament, despite being injured he still managed to rack up two assists. Despite not qualifying, Colombia managed to rise to 17th in FIFA's most recent ranking of international teams. They will be looking towards qualifying for the Copa America in 2024.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has stood like a colossus over world football for the last two decades, having played for some of the world's best teams such as Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United. Despite 'retiring' from international football in 2016, the striker returned to the Swedish National team to compete in Euro 2020. Alas, Sweden bowed out of their World Cup qualification as they lost the play-off final against Poland. This will be the second consecutive tournament that they have missed out on and likely the last chance for Ibrahimovic to make his mark on the World Cup.
Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)
Victor Osimhen has been running riot in the Serie A this season, helping Napoli to the top spot in the table. Gli Azzurri have been one of the most in-form teams in Europe, only recently losing their unbeaten run of 21 games against Liverpool in the Champions League. Nigeria, however, will not be featuring in this year's tournament after being held to a 1-1 draw against Ghana. The Black Stars' goal meant that they qualified to the World Cup group stages by an away goal which placed them just above Nigeria in the standings. The Super Eagles have a star-studded line up and their absence in Qatar will have a major impact on the support form their fans as many Nigerians live in Qatar and were looking forward to seeing their country represented on football's biggest stage.
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Algeria missed out on qualifying by the finest of margins. Forward Islam Slimani had a goal ruled out for offside and one disallowed by VAR for handball, which allowed Cameron to creep through to World Cup on away goals. So Mahrez won't be present at the World Cup for the second tournament in a row despite winning the 2019 AFCON. The winger's absence may allow him to recuperate and get back to the form he has shown in previous seasons as he has often been left on the sidelines by Pep Guardiola this campaign. Andy Robertson and John McGinn (Scotland) Scotland will again miss out on another World Cup tournament, despite putting up a valiant play-off display against Ukraine in their return to international football since the Russian invasion. Liverpool's Robertson and Aston Villa's McGinn are arguably the biggest Premier League stars in the Scotland camp and will have to make do with another tilt at Euro 2024 qualification next year.
Oleksander Zinchenko (Ukraine)
Despite their heroic efforts against Scotland, Ukraine lost in the play-off final against Wales for World Cup qualification. During Euro 2020, Zinchenko captained his team to the quarter-finals despite there being only a handful of Ukrainians that play for top teams around the world.
Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
Finally, Wilfried Zaha will also not be appearing at this World Cup despite being in a rich vein of form for Crystal Palace in the Premier League. Côte d'Ivoire used to be the giants of African football when the Toure brothers were in their pomp, although, since their retirement, they haven't been as dominant as they once were. This is the second consecutive World Cup that the Elephants have missed out on despite making the previous three tournaments.
The article Which star players won’t be at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar? appeared first on Planetsport.com.