British soccer player JJ Weaver is likely to miss the next match through injury

LEXINGTON — The Kentucky football team will likely be without one of its best defensemen for this weekend’s game against Northern Illinois.

Linebacker JJ Weaver is injured week by week, British coach Mark Stoops said Monday at his weekly press conference, and is unlikely to play when the eighth-ranked Wildcats host the Huskies on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Kroger Field.

On its depth chart for Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois, released Monday morning, Kentucky listed Jordan Wright as a starter at Weaver’s outside linebacker. Rookie Alex Afari is the starter at the strong linebacker position that Wright typically plays.

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Weaver, a former Moore star, was injured on Youngstown State’s first drive on Saturday. After lying down on the ground, he sat up on his own and was eventually helped up. He left the field and entered the tunnel leading to the British dressing room and did not return to the game. Weaver has an undisclosed upper body injury.

Even without Weaver, the Wildcats shut out the Penguins 31-0.

But he is an essential part of the defense going forward. Weaver has 15 tackles this season, tied for the team lead despite his limited appearance against Youngstown State. And he becomes an emotional leader for the UK.

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Defensive teammates said Weaver’s public comments that Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson wouldn’t be able to run the ball against Kentucky – a week after going for 104 yards against Utah – were a factor in motivation in the Cats’ 26-16 Week 2 victory in Gainesville, Florida.

“JJ made a statement earlier in the week saying he wasn’t going to be able to run and we had to support him on that,” cornerback Keidron Smith said after the UK kept Richardson at 4 meters in six races.

This story will be updated later with more information.

Contact Louisville men’s basketball reporter Brett Dawson and bdawson@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @BDawsonWrites.

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