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Christopher Nkunku's World Cup dream over before it even started. The 25-year-old rising star striker at RB Leipzig was removed from the French national team just hours after suffering a knee injury during Tuesday's training session in in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, south of Paris on the eve of the squad's departure for Qatar.  

"The radiological examinations taken in the evening unfortunately revealed that it was a sprain," the team said in a statement.

Nkunku, who is targeted by Todd Boehly's Chelsea ahead of the start of winter window following the World Cup, was considered as a key cog off the bench under Didier Deschamps' system -- someone who could be a spark plug for the defending champs. Nkunku found the back of the net 12 times in 15 matches this season for Leipzig and has yet to score a goal for Les Bleus in eight appearances.

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The team will now reach out to FIFA to request an injury replacement on the squad. Although the team has not made public who they plan to select to take Nkunku's place, RMC reports that Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani will be their choice.

The reigning champions will open their title defense against Australia in a week on Nov. 22, followed by a date with Denmark on Nov. 26 and Tunisia on Nov. 30. Les Bleus are somewhat familiar with Australia and Denmark, given that they were paired with them in the previous World Cup.