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France lose World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez to injury

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Another one of France’s 2018 World Cup -winning team is injured and was ruled out of the title defense on Wednesday, and likely for the rest of the season.

Lucas Hernandez, the starting left-back four years ago, lasted just eight minutes of France’s opening game against Australia on Tuesday before suffering a ruptured ACL in his right knee.

“We’re losing an important element,” coach Didier Deschamps said in French soccer federation statement. “Lucas is a warrior.”

Hernandez seemed to twist his right knee while his leg was off the ground in the play that saw the cross delivered for Australia to score and take a shock early lead in France’s 4-1 win.

The 26-year-old Bayern Munich defender was clutching at his knee in pain even before landing on the turf.

While his younger brother Theo prepared to come on as a replacement, Hernandez was treated on the pitch for a couple minutes before limping around the field to exit down the players’ tunnel.

“It’s never good to see one of your teammates leaving the field in that way,” France captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said after the game. “I believe it is an important injury. He’s not the first one.”

Hernandez now joins Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, who were ruled out before Deschamps picked his squad, as standout starters in the 2018 lineup missing in Qatar.

France also lost forwards Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku to injuries in training last week and central defender Raphael Varane, another key part of the 2018 team, has not played for six weeks because of a hamstring injury.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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