Tuesday 17 July 2018

James Rodriguez set to start for Colombia

Both Colombia and Poland lost their opening games in Russia.

James Rodriguez has been struggling with injury (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)
James Rodriguez has been struggling with injury (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

By Press Association Sport staff

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman is preparing to unleash James Rodriguez on Poland in an attempt to prevent an early World Cup exit.

Playmaker Rodriguez was restricted to a substitute appearance in the opening defeat against Japan due to a calf injury.

The 26-year-old, winner of the golden boot in Brazil four years ago, came on for the final half an hour in Saransk but was unable to help his team salvage a point after they had Carlos Sanchez sent off inside three minutes.

A second successive loss would almost certainly end Los Cafeteros’ hopes of reaching the last 16 in Russia and Pekerman is confident Rodriguez is ready to face the Poles.

Asked at his pre-match press conference if the player could start, the Argentinian-born manager replied: “Yes, definitely. James Rodriguez is a vital player for our national squad.

“James is doing very well, that’s what we’ve seen in the training sessions.

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Carlos Sanchez, number six, is suspended (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

“He played a number of minutes in the previous match and that gave him more confidence and there were a number of things that we had to fine tune but he’s worked very, very intensively over the last couple and we really hope that he will be 100 per cent in top form for tomorrow.”

In addition to Sanchez’s suspension and Rodriguez’s recovery, Pekerman hinted at making further changes to his starting XI for the Kazan clash.

Poland also lost their opening game in Group H – 2-1 to Senegal – and will be equally desperate for three points to boost their chances of staying in the tournament.

“We’re going to review some of the circumstances,” continued Pekerman.

“It’s quite possible and probable that we might change a couple of players.

“This World Cup really doesn’t give you any time to breathe.

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Jose Pekerman took charge of Colombia in 2012 (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

“In our group, all the teams are very even. All the matches are going to be very hard for the four teams in this group and that’s what we’re seeing.

“We didn’t start very well, that’s true, and now we have to overcome that.”

Sunday’s match will be the first competitive meeting between the two countries.

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Poland striker Robert Lewandowski failed to produce his best against Senegal (Tim Goode/Empics)

Adam Nawałka dismissed suggestions the game is his biggest as Poland coach and insists his team are confident of turning their fortunes around following a disappointing start.

“I would not say this is my most important game as Poland coach. I treat all games seriously,” he said, according to fifa.com.

“We lost the first game, but we did not lose faith. I am convinced we are well prepared.

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Poland coach Adam Nawalka needs a result in Kazan (Tim Goode/Empics)

“There was big hope in Poland and, as a consequence, big disappointment.

“We are eager to play the second game, of course I hope with a better result.”

Press Association

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