SALAH TO TAKE CALL ON FITNESS
Egypt coach Hector Cuper said that Mohamed Salah has recovered from his shoulder injury and it will be up to the forward to decide if he is fit enough to face Uruguay in their opening game at the World Cup on Friday.
“We still have to see how training goes today, but I can almost assure you 100 per cent that he’ll play, we are all very optimistic that he will be on the pitch,” Cuper said on Thursday, shortly before leading out his squad for training at Yekaterinburg Arena – with Salah among them. “Salah is very good and he’s recovered very quickly.”
Salah, who sustained the injury in Liverpool’s Uefa Champions League final loss to Real Madrid last month is crucial to Egypt’s hopes of making it out of a weak-looking Group A also featuring hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia. Cuper hinted that it was the player who had the final decision whether to play.
“Doctors are giving him the option,” said Cuper. “If he does decide to play he will have full guarantee [about his condition] and I am sure that he will be fine. If we see at the last minute that there is an issue then we will see if it can be resolved, but certainly he does not feel afraid.”
Egypt play Uruguay in the second game of the tournament, following Russia against Saudi Arabia in the opening match.
Salah had a superb first season with Liverpool in the Premier League, netting 44 goals in all competitions.
But his World Cup dream was left on the brink when he exited the Champions League final three weeks ago in tears after coming off worst in a tussle with Real Madrid’s captain Sergio Ramos.
Salah, who turns 26 on Friday, gave Egyptians a huge lift on Wednesday when he joined a squad training session at their Grozny base. He had appeared at the final training session in Cairo, but had not taken part.
Egypt are back in the World Cup finals for the first time since 1990 and their progress to the last 16 could hinge on Salah enjoying the form that saw him voted England’s Player of the Year by his fellow professionals.
Uruguay are their toughest opponents, and Egypt will fancy chances of advancing from Group A, which also includes Russia and Saudi Arabia. A Russian reporter, staying at Egypt’s team hotel, said that Salah had also been working with a trainer until after midnight following their arrival in Yekaterinburg on Wednesday.
Cuper also entertained a question from a reporter about Salah’s prospects of emerging as the top scorer at the tournament. “Why not? He could become the top goalscorer here and one of the greatest players.”