TODAY'S PAPER
Clear 19° Good Afternoon
Clear 19° Good Afternoon
SportsSoccer

The top (injured) players at (or not at) the 2010 World Cup

Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba lies on the

Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba lies on the ground after suffering an injury during an international friendly game against Japan. (June 4, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

Once the games begin, I'm sure the focus of the 2010 World Cup will be on all the dynamic players and loads of majestic goals. So far, however, this year's tournament has been all about the injuries. 

There have been no less than a dozen significant injuries in the months leading up to the World Cup ... and there's still a few days left to add a couple more. Which ones matter the most, you ask? Well I'll tell you ... 

The top guy on our Top 10 list may not be the best player of the group (although he very well might be), but instead, the most valuable to his team. Also, we're leaving off guys like USA's Charlie Davies, England's David Beckham and Paraguay's Salvador Cabanas, because we knew about their injuries long ago and their coaches planned accordingly.

Ready. Set. Don't pull anything.

10. Rene Adler* - Germany (ribs). You all know about Michael Ballack's injury, but remember that Adler was the Germans' starting keeper a month ago. They have some solid backups to replace him, but you never want to lose your No. 1 keeper this close to the World Cup.

9. Humberto Suazo - Chile (hamstring). Suazo is back training lightly, but who knows if he'll be fit in time for Chile's crucial first two matches. He led the 18th-ranked Chileans in scoring -- and led all of the CONMEBOL region -- with 10 goals during qualifying.

8. Rio Ferdinand* - England (knee). Ferdinand has been a defensive staple for the English squad for years. The Three Lions' captain formed a nice partnership with John Terry, but now that role belongs to Ledley King.

7. Arjen Robben - Netherlands (hamstring). We may not see Robben in the group stage, though his hamstring injury wasn't as bad as previously thought. The only reason this star winger is ranked this low is because of the Netherlands' incredible depth on the attack.

6. Andrea Pirlo - Italy (calf). Pirlo, a dynamic midfielder is trying to make it back from his calf injury by the last game of the group stage. Hopefully, for Italy, that game won't matter anyway.

5. John Mikel Obi* - Nigeria (knee). Nigeria's fight for second place in Group B got a lot harder without its star midfielder.

4. Nani* - Portugal (collarbone). This tournament could have put Nani firmly on the map, though he should be well established by now after an excellent season for Man U. The timing of his injury -- a week before the tournament -- was a crusher.

3. Michael Ballack* - Germany (ankle). Ballack was the calming influence in the middle. In a tough group D, this mysterious German side could finish second and see England next.

2. Michael Essien* - Ghana (knee, ankle). Like Ballack, Essien is the team's man in the middle. Ankle and knee injuries leave him unavailable, which spells trouble in a deep Group D.

1. Didier Drogba - Ivory Goast (elbow). Without a doubt, this one is the most devastating. I know we could still see some Schilling-esque return, but the Ivory Coast's most important game (June 15 - Portugal) comes first and I would be shocked if Drogs was close to full heath by then. As one of the game's most dominant strikers, the Elephants have a tough task in trying to survive the Group of Death.

* = ruled out of the tournament.

New York Sports