Kyle Walker has undergone groin surgery, leaving the Manchester City defender with World Cup heartache. The 32-year-old picked up the injury in Sunday’s 6-3 home win over Manchester United and while it’s a blow for his club it will be even more serious for Gareth Southgate and England.

Southgate will name their 26-man squad for the final in Qatar on November 10, although Fifa’s final deadline is November 14, meaning they would have the option of late adjustments if any issues arise during the matches. Premier League matches on November 12 and 13. the last weekend before the domestic season break. England kick off in Qatar against Iran on November 21.

That leaves Walker – who has 70 caps – just over five weeks to regain his fitness, with the chances of that happening deemed to be slim. Walker, however, refuses to give up hope.

Southgate said he knew he would lose players before finalizing his squad – that’s inevitable given the busy nature of the schedule ahead of an unprecedented Winter World Cup. But he wouldn’t have wanted one of the absentees to be Walker, who he relies on as a right-back in his back three and can also play at right-back or right-back in a four.

Walker’s pace is vital, particularly in covering for Harry Maguire – who Southgate continues to trust on the left of the three, despite his struggles with form. John Stones would be the main candidate to move to the right of the three from the middle, with Eric Dier in the frame to start in the center.

Stones, also from City, has had his own injury problems and limped off in England’s 3-3 draw with Germany last week with a hamstring injury. He hasn’t played for City since.

Southgate’s other options in central defense are Conor Coady, Marc Guéhi, Fikayo Tomori and, possibly, Ben White. His right-back options are – in order of preference – Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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    City confirmed surgery on Walker’s left leg and that it was “successful and a more detailed prognosis will be provided in due course”.

    Pep Guardiola’s options to replace Walker at right-back include João Cancelo, who can switch from left-back, and Stones.

    Walker tweeted: “My surgery on Tuesday was a success and now I can focus on my rehabilitation and getting back to full fitness. I will be supporting my teammates every day in any way I can.”