PASADENA, Calif. -- Colombia refuse to rule out James Rodriguez of Tuesday's Copa America Centenario Group A game against Paraguay.
Despite media speculation the last few days, affirming that the Real Madrid midfielder is out of Tuesday’s match, Colombia’s head coach Jose Pekerman confirmed there is still a 24-hour window to see how the player is doing before taking a final decision for Tuesday's match (10:30 pm ET, FS1, UniMás, UDN).
“James has been evolving [from the shoulder injury] but we know there is always some pain that comes with it. We still have 24 hours before taking a final decision,” said Pekerman on Monday in a press conference held at Rose Bowl.
“We don’t want to rush, it wouldn’t be good. We will give him some more time to be certain. We will take a decision closer to the game.”
In the opening game against the United States last Friday in Santa Clara, the Colombian playmaker fell on the ground with all the weight of his body on his left shoulder in a clash with the US captain Michael Bradley, forcing him to leave the match minutes later.
Rodriguez scored the second goal via penalty kick for Colombia in the 2-0 win over the US after Cristian Zapata gave them the early lead.
For Colombia’s coach, although lining up the player might put Rodriguez at risk to injure his shoulder further, ultimately the decision has to be taken in conjunction with the team’s doctors and the player himself.
“If it’s up to me, I would opt for caution, specially when you believe there is a risk,” Pekerman said.
“But the decision has to taken with the medical group and it is personal as well. We have to wait to see how the player feels, how he can manage it. These are the things we have to take in consideration before taking a final decision as we have players that have suffered this type of injuries before.”
If Rodriguez is indeed ruled out of the game, what is Colombia’s Plan B in that position?
Tijuana’s midfielder Dayro Moreno was featured in the No. 10 spot that Rodriguez typically occupies during a 3-1 warm-up win over Haiti last Sunday. Though Moreno is an option, Monterrey playmaker Edwin Cardona is the most likely player to replace him in that No. 10 position.
“We have not decided it yet [who would replace James] as James is irreplaceable. But we do have good players of different characteristic that can find the connections we need. We have players like Dayro Moreno, Mario Moreno, [Edwin] Cardona, Roger Martinez. Any of them, and depending on how Carlitos [Bacca] feels, he associates really well with the rest, we would take a decision.”
If Cardona is the chosen one, he is ready to take on that responsibility.
"The responsibility [to replace James] is for everyone," Cardona at Sunday’s press conference in Los Angeles. "We know the quality he has and what he means to us and for the national team. It makes our game easier when you are next to him for the quality he has. If I have to play in that position, I will obviously do it to benefit my team."