England boss Fabio Capello has admitted that the potential loss of Ashley Cole from his FIFA World Cup™ squad is a severe blow to his preparations for South Africa.

Chelsea left-back Cole will be sidelined until early or mid-May after suffering a fracture of his left ankle, leaving him with only a few weeks to prove his fitness before the FIFA World Cup gets underway in mid-June. "It is sad news for me because he is a very important player," Capello acknowledged. "He is good when he defending and really dangerous when we go forward. I hope this problem will not be so serious."

Cole's injury, suffered in a defeat by Everton on Wednesday, is also a major setback for Chelsea, for whom Cole had been in superb form, as they pursue a Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble. Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti can deploy Yuri Zhirkov or Paulo Ferreira in the left-back slot but neither of them provide the kind of attacking dynamism that Cole offers and which is an integral part of the club's system.

Cole limped off in the second half against Everton, following a challenge with Landon Donovan, the USA international who, ironically, could line up against the defender again when England face the Americans in their FIFA World Cup opener on 12 June. Ancelotti, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's FA Cup clash with Cardiff, confirmed that Cole was due to undergo surgery on the injury on Friday.