French defender Raphael Varane’s hopes of playing in this year’s final were dashed on Wednesday when Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag said he would not play until the tournament starts on November 20.
The 29-year-old former Real Madrid player left the pitch crying with a leg injury during United’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea last Saturday.
“Varane is not in the squad,” Ten Hag told a news conference on the eve of United’s Europa League game with Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol.
“He will be out until the World Cup. We have to see how he develops, how his rehabilitation will develop.”
Varane, who has suffered several prolonged absences through injury during his career, adds to France manager Didier Deschamps’ headaches before naming his team for the final in Qatar on November 9.
N’Golo Kanté, the Chelsea defensive midfielder who was a key player in France’s success four years ago, will definitely miss the tournament due to a hamstring injury.
Paul Pogba is a doubt as he is still recovering from knee surgery and Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, substitute for starter Hugo Lloris, could be ruled out with a calf injury.
France’s first game in the World Cup group stage is against Australia on 22 November, before taking on Denmark on 26 November and Tunisia four days later.
Ten Hag said Cristiano Ronaldo would be in the squad for Thursday’s match – a game his team must win to have any chance of leading their group.
This would allow them to avoid a Champions League third-place finish in the February play-off round.
Ronaldo returned to first-team training with Manchester United for the first time on Tuesday since his refusal to come on as a substitute against Tottenham last week.
The Portuguese was left out of United’s call-up for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea and did individual training with fitness trainers on Friday.
“It’s not difficult (Ronaldo’s situation). We said everything, answered all questions. He was out for a game and now he’s back,” Ten Hag said.
“We have an important game tomorrow, we want to lead the group.”