Diego Reyes will not take part in the World Cup because of a hamstring injury, the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol (FMF) announced Tuesday.
Reyes had missed deadlines Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio set for all players to be fit. Initially, the manager said players needed to play against Scotland in a June 2 friendly match, then moved it to a June 9 game against Denmark. Reyes didn't play in either but still traveled to Russia with the team as he continued to recover from the injury, suffered May 6 in Porto's penultimate match of the season.
The versatile 25-year-old has played center back and defensive midfielder for Mexico, and even has seen time at right back. That ability to play multiple positions is prized by Osorio, who has 20-year-old Edson Alvarez on the roster thanks to a similar skillset. Pachuca midfielder Erick Gutierrez, who traveled to Russia as Mexico's reserve player in case Reyes didn't return to full fitness, takes the spot vacated on the roster.
In a statement, Reyes said his injury had been getting better: "However, today along with the coaching staff I've decided to make a decision that hurts my soul because I think it's the best for my teammates because I'm not sure I can achieve the best version of myself in such little time. That's why I've decided, along with (manager) Juan Carlos Osorio that I won't make up part of the 23 players who will fight for the World Cup."
Reyes also suffered an injury that cut short his Confederations Cup, something that Osorio has cited as a reason for Mexico not finishing better than fourth place.
"#FuerzaDiego," the Mexican national team account tweeted. "We're with you 'Flaco' (skinny). Your happiness will be with us in every moment. Russia 2018 is for you. You'll definitely come back stronger."
Mexico begins its World Cup campaign Sunday against reigning champion Germany before group matches with South Korea and Sweden.