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Soccer

Jiménez – a huge World Cup 2022 doubt for Mexico

The Wolves striker’s ongoing injury issues mean he may miss the tournament in Qatar

Roddy Cons
Update:
The Wolves striker’s ongoing injury issues mean he may miss the tournament in Qatar
Steven Paston - PA ImagesGetty

Football can be a cruel sport. A year ago this week, Raúl Jiménez would have been feeling on top of the world. After recovering from a severe head trauma as a result of a clash with Arsenal’s David Luiz in November 2020, the Mexican netted his first Premier League goal following that career-threatening injury to give Wolves a victory away to Southampton.

This brilliant goal was a year ago today! Raúl Jiménez’s first since returning to the squad! One of the most admirable and emotional comeback stories imaginable. What a man! It’s an honour to have you as part of the pack!

Jiménez in danger for the World Cup

Fast forward 12 months, however, and Jiménez looks to be in grave danger of missing the 2022 World Cup due to more fitness issues, which would be a big blow to Mexico coach Tato Martino, who has seen his side struggle for goals in recent games.

The forward, who missed Wolves’ first three league matches because of a knee problem, played three times in 11 days between the 20th and 31st of August, but has not featured for Wolves since. He was called up by Martino for this week’s friendlies against Peru and Colombia but broke down in training before the first of those games, an MRI scan showing that Jiménez is suffering from a groin injury which looks set to rule him out for some time.

Martino staying positive

Martino, however, has tried to remain positive: “I’m optimistic. It’s true that we are all worried by the injury. Now our objective is to make sure he recovers as quickly as possible, that he doesn’t throw in the towel and stays positive the whole time.”

Jiménez is currently the top goalscorer in the Mexico squad with 30 goals in 97 caps but although he appears to be fully over his head injury, he has struggled to replicate the form he showed before it. Across 2018-19 and 2019-20, he netted a total of 44 times for Wolves but has scored just seven goals in all competitions in the last year.

Time running out for Jiménez

Following Tuesday’s match against Colombia in Santa Clara, Mexico have two more friendlies in the run-up to the World Cup, facing Iraq on November 9th and Sweden on November 16th in Girona, Spain. Martino will desperately hope to have Jiménez available for those matches, which take place either side of his squad announcement, due for November 14th.

Mexico will kick off their World Cup campaign against Poland in Doha on November 22nd. Their other Group C opponents are Argentina on November 26th and Saudi Arabia on November 30th.

Reports suggests that Javier Hernández, the country’s all-time leading goalscorer, could be recalled should Jiménez eventually miss out.

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