Soccer / Women's World Cup

Yui Hasegawa in doubt as Japan prepares for Scotland

Kyodo

Winger Yui Hasegawa skipped practice to treat an ankle injury Wednesday as Nadeshiko Japan prepared for its upcoming Women’s World Cup clash with Group D opponent Scotland.

The 22-year-old attacker, who has emerged as a key playmaker for Asako Takakura’s side, appeared to hurt her left ankle in Japan’s scoreless draw against Argentina in Paris on Monday.

Hasegawa played all 90 minutes of Japan’s tournament opener against the South Americans, telling reporters she was “fine” following the match.

Midfielders Mizuho Sakaguchi and Yuka Momiki trained separately from the rest of the squad on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, forward Rikako Kobayashi, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury since the middle of May, said she is ready to return for Friday’s crucial clash against Scotland at Roazhon Park if picked.

“I’m not sure if I’ll be 100 percent, but I’ll be ready when it matters,” said Kobayashi, who plays for club side Nippon TV Beleza along with Hasegawa, Sakaguchi and Momiki.

The 21-year-old striker, who was a member of Japan’s U-17 Women’s World Cup-winning team in 2014, received a vote of confidence from her manager.

“I think Kobayashi is ready,” Takakura said.

The match against 20th-ranked Scotland looms as a must-win clash for world No. 7 Japan. With Japan’s final Group D game against No. 3 England, which won 3-0 the last time they met in March, its hopes of a knockout-stage berth could hinge on taking three points against the Scots.

Japan and Scotland have met twice previously, with Japan winning both times. Scotland is last in Group D without a point after losing its opening match against England 2-1.