Germany v Austria - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Theo Walcott just the first; roster of World Cup injury misfortune sure to grow


News today that Theo Walcott will miss this year’s big happening in Brazil reminds us of the added jeopardy of injury in a World Cup year.

Walcott is 24, which means he’ll have one more World Cup in the sweet spot of his playing days. After that, he’ll be 32 by the time Qatar 2022 rolls around. That’s an age where players are beginning to slow down, and managers are looking to get younger legs into certain spots.

(That may be especially true in 2022, considering a controversial selection of location that could create a first World Cup where some poor player actually bursts into flames during the run of play.)

(MORE: Theo Walcott will miss rest of season and World Cup)

In the bigger picture, we also know that Walcott will not be the lone member of this World Cup 2014 roster of misfortune. Injury will cut down opportunity for others in the coming months, an unfortunate reality.

There certainly could be a player from our own country. Remember that Steve Cherundolo and Chris Armas were late, injury scratches from the 2002 World Cup in Asia. A horrific series of injuries took Charlie Davies out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Michael Ballack (pictured above) and David Beckham missed World Cup 2010 with injuries

Marco van Basten was in the middle of his long-running injury struggles (that eventually drove the graceful Dutch striker from the game way too early) when he missed the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

Of course, not all the names who miss World Cup 2014 will be the Beckham stratosphere, or even in the Ballack zone. Still, the list will surely grow.

How can Man United qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United FC

Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]

So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:

  • A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.

VIDEO: Can Leicester stun the world? Man United title favorites?

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The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?

With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.

[ MORE: Full PST Extra archive ]

Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.

Men in Blazers podcast: The Leicester fairytale goes on

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo revel in another chapter of the Leicester City fairytale, break down Liverpool’s shock dismantling of Manchester City and discuss Arsenal’s slip against West Brom.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Pellegrini updates status of Joe Hart’s hamstring injury

Joe Hart, Manchester City FC
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Joe Hart was forced to leave Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, which he seemed to incur while making a spectacular one-on-one kick-save late in the second half.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Hart’s injury is indeed a hamstring issue, and went on to say that he would need further tests once the team arrives back in Manchester to determine the severity and how long, if at all, City and England’s no. 1 would be out of action.

Man City, currently third in the Premier League on 26 points, will host eighth-place Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).