• Kyodo


Japan midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi remains doubtful for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Iraq due to a lower right leg injury.

In searing heat topping 35 degrees C in the Iranian capital, Yamaguchi on Sunday continued to train apart from the team with persistent pain in the leg restricting his involvement. He came off in the 53rd minute of Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Syria.

Despite complaining of a sore right groin since the Syria game, full-back Yuto Nagatomo was able to take part in full training on Sunday.

But with Shinji Kagawa (dislocated shoulder) having already pulled out, Yamaguchi’s potential unavailability could force coach Vahid Halilhodzic into vastly realigning his midfield.

“It’s not a good thing to have injuries before a big game like this, but we still need to be prepared to fight for the whole 90 minutes,” midfielder Yasuyuki Konno said.

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