DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegal have gambled on imposing defender Kara Mbodji recovering from a knee injury to play in the World Cup after he was named in their 23-man squad on Thursday.
The 28-year-old centre back has not played for his Belgian club Anderlecht since December but was included in the squad by coach Aliou Cisse, who will have until June 4 to change his mind if Mbodji proves unfit to go to Russia.
Cisse, who captained Senegal on their previous World Cup appearance 16 years ago, handed veteran striker Moussa Sow a place in the squad but left out Pape Souare, the Crystal Palace full back who was recalled for two friendlies in March after recovering from a car accident that almost cost him his career.
Also missing out was Everton striker Oumar Niasse, although there are seven players from English clubs in the final selection, headed by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.
“For the last three years we have been together, this group has been working hard, focusing on continuity and cohesion, but the criteria of competitiveness was part of the selection equation,” Cisse told a news conference.
“We want to keep up the positive momentum of the qualifiers,” he added.
Senegal compete in Group H at the World Cup, starting against Poland on June 19 in Moscow before playing Japan and Colombia.
They begin their pre-tournament preparations in Senegal on Monday but Mane will only join up with the squad after the Champions League final on May 26.
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Stade Rennes), Alfred Gomis (SPAL), Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya)
Defenders: Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor), Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Kara Mbodii (Anderlecht), Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux), Salif Sane (Hannover 98), Moussa Wague (Eupen)
Midfielders: Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United), Alfred Ndiaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Badou Ndiaye (Stoke City), Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham City), Ismaila Sarr (Stade Rennes)
Forwards: Keita Balde (Monaco), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City), Moussa Konate (Amiens), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Mbaye Niang (Torino), Diafra Sakho (Stade Rennes), Moussa Sow (Bursaspor).
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond