World Cup Countdown: Race against the clock

A thigh injury suffered by Jerome Boateng in Bayern Munich's UEFA Champions League game on Wednesday leaves the German defender with a race against the clock to be ready for the World Cup.

Other stars like Argentina's Sergio Aguero and France's Djibril Sidibe are in the same boat after suffering late-season injuries.

The news is better for France's Benjamin Mendy and Germany's Marco Reus, who have recovered from long layoffs.

Here's a look at the injury situations at the eight World Cup seeds ...

Russia. On a team rated one of the weakest host nations in World Cup history and seriously lacking depth, any injury is a problem. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov has had to deal with multiple injuries as central defenders Viktor Vasin and Georgy Dzhikiya are out with severe knee injuries and top scorer Aleksandr Kokorin is also sidelined after injuring his knee while playing for Zenit St. Petersburg in the Europa League in March.

Portugal. Danilo Pereira, who started as a defensive midfielder on Portugal's Euro 2016 championship team, is out of the World Cup after suffering a partial tear on his left Achilles tendon while playing with Porto. The injury also complicates his contemplated move to England.

France. Mendy, France's No. 1 left back, returned from a knee injury suffered in September when he saw action on Sunday in Manchester City's 5-0 win over Swansea City. That good news was tempered by a knee injury of his own suffered by first-choice right back Djibril Sidibe two weeks ago while playing for Monaco. Sidibe will miss the rest of the Ligue 1 season but hopes to return for the World Cup. The other options at left back: veteran Mathieu Debuchy (St. Etienne) and Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart).

Argentina. Coach Jorge Sampaoli's big concern is whether Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero will recover from arthroscopic surgery on his knee in time for the World Cup. Aguero was injured in the recent derby against Manchester United after scoring 30 times in all competitions for City. Veteran midfielder Lucas Biglia could miss the World Cup after fracturing two vertebrae in his back on Saturday while playing for AC Milan.

Brazil. Neymar has targeted May 17 as the day he plans to return to training and get ready for the World Cup after needing an operation on his foot for an injury suffered while playing for Paris St. Germain on Feb. 25.

Germany. Boateng has been ruled out for the rest of the season and faces a battle to convince Coach Joachim Loew to include him in his provisional World Cup team set to be named on May 15, three days after the end of the Bundesliga season.

Boateng's Bayern teammate, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, also faces a race against the clock. Neuer admits "there are a lot of question marks" as he comes back from a second metatarsal break suffered in six months in September 2017.

The news is better for Reus, who has recovered from a knee injury suffered in the 2017 German Cup final and kept him out for eight months. He starred in Borussia Dortmund's 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen last weekend and could make the Germany squad after missing out on the 2014 world championship campaign when he was injured in the final tune-up game.

Belgium. Michy Batshuayi's loan from Chelsea to Borussia Dortmund was cut short after he suffered ankle ligament damage. The forward returned to London and is hoping to recover in order to be included in the Red Devils' squad. Midfielder Steven Defour isn't optimistic about recovering in time from his knee injury. He has not played for Burnley since Jan. 20.

Colombia. Doubts about the availability of winger Juan Cuadrado eased after he returned to action with Juventus following a three-month layoff after groin surgery.
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