James Rodriguez injury: Will Colombia star be fit for England last 16 match?

The Bayern Munich playmaker was forced off the pitch after 30 minutes in the final group fixture – will he be ready to face the Three Lions?

Colombia have a strong chance of going far in the World Cup this summer but all attention will be on the fitness of star player James Rodriguez.

The South American side qualified for the last 16 stage after topping their group with wins against Senegal and Poland following an opening loss to Japan, and will now face Group G runners-up England in the knockout phase.

Concerns about Rodriguez’s injury and availability for the rest of the tournament were exacerbated when he was forced off the pitch against Senegal in the final group fixture. 

So will the Real Madrid forward be fit in time to face the Three Lions? Goal brings you all you need to know.

James was already sporting a calf injury heading into the first game of the competition when he started on the bench for the opening group fixture against Japan, which Colombia lost. 

He was deemed to have made a full recovery for the game against Poland for which he played an instrumental part, providing two assists to help his team to a 3-0 victory. But he didn’t seem quite up to par against Senegal, where he was forced off the pitch at just the half-hour mark and headed straight down the tunnel.

Concerns were raised that playing him against Senegal seemed to have worsened the injury after the medical team opted not to risk his fitness for the game against Japan.

Colombia had to take a gamble, however, as their opening loss to the Asian side meant that they had to improve their performance in their remaining two group matches – and badly needed the service of James. 

It is understood that that minimum time to recover from such a calf injury would be three weeks as it would affect the mobility of the entire leg.

Should he face England, he would not be at 100 per cent fitness and the exertion could potentially lead to a more severe injury.

The latest development on the eve of the fixture, however, has Pekerman stating that James’ injury is not serious and that he is optimistic the forward will be able to feature in reamining fixtures.

Colombia finishing first in their group meant that they set up a last 16 clash with England, who finished as runners-up in Group G.

There is a major concern that James will be unable to recover in time for the fixture, which is scheduled to take place on July 3, with a late (7pm BST) kick-off. 

The Colombian federation confirmed that scans showed no torn muscle, though confirmed swelling in the injured area and the playmaker is reported to have sat out training over the weekend as a precautionary measure.

“What I can say is I’m extremely concerned, it’s a very tough situation for my team,” head coach Jose Pekerman told reporters.

“I didn’t want to address this in comments because it seems one of these topics [that] can overshadow everything else.

“In the last Poland match James felt fatigue but it was only fatigue and that was due to him not being present in the previous match.”

Despite the concern, the midfielder has been able to travel with the team to Moscow for the game, which suggests that he will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness for the England game.

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