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30th Jun 2018

James Rodriguez is a huge doubt for England game after missing training

He could be out for the tournament after picking up a calf injury against Senegal

Matthew Gault

This will undoubtedly blunt the Colombian attack.

Hopes of England’s World Cup chances seem to be undimmed despite a slip-up against Belgium’s second-string. Losing to Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils meant second place in Group G for the Three Lions, setting up a round of 16 clash with Colombia.

The South Americans are unpredictable. Their campaign in Russia began inauspiciously with defeat to Japan before roaring back to sweep Poland aside. An unconvincing 1-0 win over Senegal clinched top spot in Group H and, although they possess a great deal of attacking talent, England fans seem optimistic of a safe passage through to the last eight.

Well, it’s looking even better now following reports that Colombia’s influential playmaker James Rodriguez missed training ahead of Tuesday night’s game in Moscow.

Rodriguez, who won the Golden Ball as the best player in Brazil four years ago after scoring six goals, has endured a stop-start tournament this time around. An injury in the build-up to Colombia’s group opener restricted him to a cameo appearance from the bench against Japan.

He started – and starred – in the 3-0 win over Poland, creating two goals for his teammates but was hooked off after 31 minutes in the Senegal game.

Now, it appears the 26-year-old is losing his race to be fit after sitting out training on Saturday, according to The Independent.

Colombia have not clarified how serious the injury and their notoriously secretive coach Jose Pekerman is unlikely to give anything away in the build-up to the England game.

However, Rodriguez also missed two training sessions ahead of the Japan game so the latest developments seem rather ominous from a Colombian perspective. England, on the other hand, will be relishing the prospect of taking on the 2014 quarter-finalists without having to worry about their star player.