Key midfielder Arturo Vidal looks set to miss Chile’s World Cup opener against Australia in just four days.
The Juventus star again did not train with his teammates at their base in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on Monday with inflammation in his knee and is racing the clock to be fit for their clash with the Socceroos in Cuiaba on Friday (Saturday AEST).
Some Chilean media outlets are reporting he’s not only likely to be ruled out of the Socceroos encounter but may also miss Chile’s second group B match against world champions Spain on June 18.
Some reports suggest coach Jorge Sampaoli may be considering cutting him from the squad altogether with Rodrigo Millar to be called in as an injury replacement.
They have until 24 hours before their first match on Friday to make any injury replacements.
Chilean midfielder Marcelo Diaz said while Vidal is an important player in their side, no team relies on just one player.
“We will have to wait to see if you can play in these games,” Diaz said at a media conference on Monday (Tuesday AEST).
“Vidal is one of the best players in the world, he is very valuable and anyone would like to have him.
“But it’s not just one player who will carry the team, it is all of us.”
Diaz said the opening clash shapes as the most important one for his team, who are not underestimating Australia.
“We are preparing very well, we are training very intensely for our game against Australia, which is perhaps the most important game that we have,” he said.
“Australia is a great football team that plays very well, it is not an easy team.”
Should Vidal not play on Friday his most likely replacement will be 23-year-old midfielder Felipe Gutierrez.
Diaz praised Gutierrez, who plies his trade in the Dutch top flight with FC Twente and was part of the side that beat Northern Ireland 2-0 in a friendly last week.
“Felipe is one of the youngest in the squad but has experience,” Diaz said.
“He has played for many seasons in Europe … he is a great player in great condition who can play at any time.
“If he happens to play on Friday it’s because he is a very valuable player.”
Vidal, 28, has been struggling with inflammation in his knee since undergoing an operation on May 7 due to a meniscus problem.
He made a surprise comeback in last Wednesday’s victory over Northern Ireland, playing 15 minutes, but has not been able to train with his teammates since.
Tests carried out on Saturday revealed he had inflammation under his right kneecap.
Vidal trained alone and was restricted to some light jogging during the 15 minutes Chile’s training session was open to the media on Monday,
The rest of Chile’s squad trained together, including Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, despite suffering from a shoulder problem.
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