SALAH TO TAKE CALL ON FIT­NESS

The National - News - - SPORT WORLD CUP 2018 -

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.”

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