Egypt manager Hector Cuper is optimistic Mohamed Salah will be fit for his side’s World Cup opener against Uruguay next week.
The 25-year-old Liverpool forward is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Uefa Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26, with the early prognosis stating his rehabilitation "would not exceed three weeks".
That seemed to rule out Salah from the Group A clash with Uruguay on June 15 in Yekaterinburg, though, with the second match against hosts Russia four days later a more realistic target. Egypt finish their group campaign against Saudi Arabia on June 25.
However, speaking ahead of Egypt’s final World Cup warm-up against Belgium, which takes place in Brussels on Wednesday, Cuper said: "Salah is in a stage of recovery not just for treatment on his shoulder. We need to improve his demeanour and his fitness level because the injury has prevented him from training as a normal player.
"But we have very good news from our doctor, we hope he will be with us before Uruguay. We are optimists and we are waiting for him."
Competing at a first World Cup in 28 years, Egypt will return to Cairo following the match against Belgium before leaving for Russia on Sunday. Salah is set to meet up with the squad the previous day.
Yet even given the injury to his star player, Cuper said it would not impact Egypt’s game plan going forward.
“All the national team players are highly competent and experienced,” the Argentine said. “Football is a team sport and we will not change our tactics because of the absence of one player, despite Salah’s importance to us.
“The Belgium game is crucial to everyone in the national team. It will be beneficial to everyone before the World Cup.”
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Salah, meanwhile, has spoken about the injury caused by his coming-together with Sergio Ramos during the Champions League final. The Liverpool winger, who scored 44 goals in a superb debut season for the club, left the pitch in tears not long after the half-hour mark, sparking fears he may miss the World Cup.
"It's a lot of emotions, that moment," Salah said in an interview with Bleacher Report. "I'm a human being, so I feel pain, and I was thinking about my head, was thinking about the Champions League final - and after that, immediately I think about the World Cup.
“I will do my best to play from the beginning.”