Soccer-Kennedy injury brings opportunity as Herdman looks to finalise Canada squad

Soccer-Kennedy injury brings opportunity as Herdman looks to finalise Canada squad

(Reuters) – Canada defender Scott Kennedy has been ruled out of the Qatar World Cup after sustaining a freak shoulder injury, coach John Herdman confirmed on Wednesday, leaving a spot open for someone to step up.

That player could be among the 21 called up on Wednesday for a Nov. 11 friendly against Bahrain in Manama as Herdman looks to finalise his roster.

Herdman said during a conference call that he had an idea about his final 26 players but that things could change quickly.

“I’ve got 26 players in mind,” said Herdman. “You normally see around 17 players form the mass amount of minutes in a World Cup.

“So you know those 17 pretty much in your mind already… I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to work out who those players are.

“But every single week there are changes. No-one predicted what happened to Scott.”

Kennedy sustained his injury when he fell awkwardly while playing a match in the second-tier German league on Saturday for SSV Jahn Regensburg.

Capped just eight times, Kennedy is not the cornerstone of Canada’s back line but has developed a reputation for being a team leader in the locker room.

“It’s the type of injury that there’s no way back for Scott, unfortunately,” said Herdman. “He was devastated this morning and he’s going to be a big loss.”

With the FIFA international window not open until Nov. 14, Herdman’s squad for the Bahrain friendly includes only one European-based player while the other 20 come from Major League Soccer.

After the Bahrain game, those selected for the World Cup squad will move to Qatar where they will be joined by European-based players.

Back in the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Canada open their group play against Belgium, who are number two in the FIFA world rankings.

The other nations in Group F are Croatia and Morocco.

Teams have until Nov. 14 to declare their World Cup rosters and Herdman is bracing himself for some tough decisions.

“It’s easy for people to pick a squad on the internet and post it and say, this guy or this guy,” said Herdman.

“But when you’ve lived four years with men that have been contributing and you know their journey… the sacrifices they’ve had to make to travel to places during COVID, when their families and friends were telling them not to, you know there’s deeper things that go into these decisions.”

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