Mohamed Salah has been included in Egypt’s final Fifa World Cup squad despite his participation in their opening match still uncertain.
The Liverpool forward, his national team’s standout player, was always expected to feature in Hector Cuper’s 23-man group, as he continues his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury sustained in the Uefa Champions League final on May 26.
Salah will not meet up with the rest of the squad until Saturday, when Egypt return to Cairo from Brussels. They take on Belgium in a friendly on Wednesday, then leave for Russia at the weekend to begin preparations for their Group A encounter against Uruguay on June 15.
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Salah, who hit 44 goals in his debut season for Liverpool, is viewed as integral to Egypt’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stages. Last October, he scored an injury-time penalty against Congo in the team’s penultimate qualifier to seal the country’s place in a first World Cup since 1990.
After Uruguay, Egypt meet hosts Russia on June 19 before rounding off their group campaign against Saudi Arabia six days later. Salah seems likely to struggle to make the clash with the South Americas in Yekaterinburg, but the hope is that he will be able to play some part against Russia in Saint Petersburg.
Cuper’s final squad, trimmed from 29 players, contained no real shocks on Monday, although Braga forward Ahmed Hassan was the one surprise exclusion. Ismaily goalkeeper Mohamed Awaad, versatile Orlando City full-back Amro Tarek, Lens left-back Karim Hafez, Zamalek midfielder Mahmoud Abdel Aziz and Al Masry forward Ahmed Gomaa were also left out. As such, the squad contains only one specialist striker in Al Ahly frontman Marwan Mohsen.
Meanwhile, Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny made the final cut even though he too has missed recent warm-up matches through injury. Last Friday, Egypt drew 0-0 in Italy with fellow World Cup entrants Colombia.
Goalkeepers: Essam El Hadary (Al Taawoun/KSA), Mohamed El Shenawy (Al Ahly), Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly)
Defenders: Ahmed Fathi (Al Ahly), Saad Samir (Al Ahly), Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly), Ahmed Hegazi (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Ali Gabr (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa/ENG), Mohamed Abdel-Shafi (Al Fateh/KSA), Omar Gaber (Los Angeles/USA), Mahmoud Hamdy (Zamalek)
Midfielders: Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal/ENG), Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Sam Morsy (Wigan/ENG), Mahmoud Abdel Razek (Al Raed/KSA), Abdallah El Said (Al Ahly), Mahmoud Hassan (Kasimpasa/TUR), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City/ENG), Amr Warda (Atromitos/GRE), Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim (Al Ittihad/KSA)
Forwards: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/ENG), Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly)