Mohamed Salah has been declared fit for Egypt’s opening World Cup game less than three weeks after being injured in the Champions League final.
Salah left the field in tears as Liverpool were beaten by Real Madrid on May 26, at which point it looked inconceivable he would be available for his nation’s first Group A match in Russia.
Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp felt at the time it was highly unlikely Salah would recover, but the African has defied the immediate diagnosis on a shoulder ligament injury.
Now Salah’s international coach say he will make his return when his country meet Uruguay in Yekaterinburg on Friday.
“I can almost assure you 100 per cent he will play, save unforeseen circumstances at the very last minute,” said Egypt’s coach, Hector Cuper.
Salah’s presence will be hailed by his country who feared the worst when his shoulder suffered under the weight of a challenge by Sergio Ramos in Kiev.
It is also good news for the competition given the genuine concern for his fitness in the immediate aftermath of the final.
Liverpool will also be relieved Salah’s shoulder has significantly healed, although they are sure to be monitoring his progress from afar. The pressure on the player to feature extended to Egypt’s President – and his own desire to participate must have been a factor in how quickly he is being readied for action. There was no prospect of Salah giving up on his dream given his role in taking Egypt to the competition.
Salah struck the winning goal that led Egypt to their first World Cup since 1990 and he will be a star of the tournament should he replicate his club form.
Cuper has tried to suggest there is more to Egypt than Salah, saying: “Our tactics don’t solely revolve around him.”
Such claims will fall on deaf ears. Egypt’s hopes of making an impression on their group clearly depend on Salah. Whether his presence alone can inspire the country remains to be seen.
He was sitting out training earlier in the week and it would be extraordinary if he can immediately find match sharpness against the Uruguayans – a side second only to Brazil in South American qualifying and fancied by plenty to go deep into the competition.
Salah will face ex-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who alongside Edinson Cavani forms one of the most potent strike pairs in the competition. Russia and Saudi Arabia complete Group A.