The injury bug has again bitten Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni’s team, this time with Southampton defender Maya Yoshida ruled out for the rest of the Premier League season with a right-knee injury on Thursday.
According to Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino, Yoshida damaged a ligament in the knee during training on Tuesday and will not return before the club’s last game on May 11, when it hosts Manchester United.
From his first team, Zaccheroni has already seen captain Makoto Hasebe (right knee) and right-back Atsuto Uchida (right thigh) go down. Both players are question marks for the June 12-July 13 World Cup and Yoshida now has joined the list.
“Maya Yoshida is definitely out,” Pochettino said at a news conference ahead of Saturday’s home tie to Newcastle. “Maya has a knee ligament problem and he will be out for six weeks, so pretty much the rest of the season.”
The former Argentine international, however, did say Yoshida should recover by Japan’s first game in Brazil on June 14 against Cote d’Ivoire.
Yet even if he heals in time, Yoshida will clearly be short of match fitness for what will be his first World Cup, which cannot be of help to a slow-footed center-half who frequently struggles to keep up with fast-paced opponents.
“It is true that he will be out for six or seven weeks but his participation in the World Cup will not be threatened,” Pochettino said. “I actually went through a similar situation in a World Cup and I had a similar injury to his, but I recovered a month before and was able to take part in the World Cup.
“He has started working already this week so he shouldn’t miss any training sessions and the staff and all of us are going to be help him so that he’s back to his best as soon as possible.”