LONDON – Marseille defender Hiroki Sakai will be out at least three weeks with a knee injury, the French first-division club said Monday.
The Japan international hurt the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Saturday in Marseille’s 5-1 home victory over Lille in Ligue 1.
The recovery timeframe means Sakai will miss both legs of Marseille’s Europa League semifinal against Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg. It could also affect his participation at the World Cup in Russia starting in June.
As one of Japan’s European-based players starting regularly for a major club, Sakai was considered a lock for the World Cup squad prior to the injury.
Japan will play its last match on home soil against Ghana on May 30 before heading to Austria and Switzerland for its pre-World Cup camp.