FIFA World Cup 2018: Colombia coach Jose Pekerman 'concerned' over James Rodriguez's fitness ahead of knockout clash

Samara: Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said he was "concerned" over influential playmaker James Rodriguez after he limped off injured in a 1-0 win over Senegal that secured the South Americans' place in the World Cup last 16.

After playing a cameo role for 10-man Colombia in a 2-1 opening defeat to Japan due to a calf injury niggle, Rodriguez returned to the fray for a decisive performance in their 3-0 win over Poland.

Colombia's James Rodriguez walks past Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman as he leaves the pitch after being substituted during the Group H match against Senegal. AP

Colombia's James Rodriguez walks past Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman as he leaves the pitch after being substituted during the Group H match against Senegal. AP

But in Samara on Thursday, the Bayern Munich player hobbled off after just 31 minutes, forcing Pekerman to tinker with his team after losing one of his key players.

In the end a headed goal by Barcelona defender Yerry Mina was enough to see Colombia past Senegal and into the knockout round.

But Rodriguez, whose tournament-topping six-goal tally steered Colombia to the quarter-finals four years ago, could be a key absence when Colombia face England.

Pekerman said he could not confirm if the player's calf injury had flared up, but admitted: "I'm extremely concerned, it's a very tough situation for my team.

"I didn't want to talk about this in a conference, because it risks overshadowing everything else that's happened.

"But I can say it's not a comfortable situation for us."

Rumours among Colombian media suggested Rodriguez may have suffered a fresh injry, but Pekerman added: "At the moment we don't have information, I can't confirm or deny.

"He trained normally until yesterday as always, he stayed on afterwards to practise free kicks and penalties as he does.

"He was fully fit... but right now I don't know where he stands.

"We do hope we'll hear good news once he's gone for his check-up."

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Updated Date: Jun 29, 2018 10:44 AM

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