May 23, 2018 / 2:20 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Hernandez needs to deliver when it matters for Mexico

(Reuters) - Already Mexico’s top international goalscorer, Javier Hernandez will seek to stamp his mark on Russia 2018 in a way he has not yet managed in his two previous appearances at the World Cup finals.

Football Soccer- Mexico's national soccer team training - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Cuernavaca, Mexico - 21/3/17. Mexico's player Javier Hernandez attends a training session. REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files

In 2010, Hernandez netted twice for El Tri, in a 2-0 win against France and a 1-3 loss to Argentina. Four years later he was on target just once, in a 3-1 victory over Croatia.

That represents a relatively modest haul for the usually prolific striker, whose feats for his country and clubs including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen have made him probably one of the best known Mexicans on the planet.

His last international goal, against Trinidad & Tobago last October, took his tally for his country to 49, since when he has had three scoreless outings.

He enters the tournament after a tough season back in England with West Ham United, where he has eight Premier League goals from 16 starts and 12 substitute appearances.

The man who wears his nickname Chicharito (“Little Pea”) on his shirt is renowned for his speed and for his ability to head the ball, as well as shoot with both feet.

At 29, he may not be an automatic starting choice for Mexico’s Colombian coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who has a habit of constantly rotating his players and can also call on players such as Carlos Vela, Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez.

Football Soccer- Mexico's national soccer team training - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Cuernavaca, Mexico - 21/3/17. Mexico's player Javier Hernandez attends a training session. REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files

But whether he starts or comes on from the bench, Hernandez’s ability to lift his team and score crucial goals will play an important part in Mexico’s bid to end a run of six consecutive defeats in the last 16, and to at least reach the quarter-finals as they did in 1970 and 1986.

Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; additional reporting by Carlos Pacheco; Editing by Toby Davis

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