Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has been ruled out of England's final two FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland with a calf injury, the Football Association have announced.
The FA's statement, which came just hours before England's match against Montenegro at Wembley was due to kick-off, said: "Cleverley complained of a sore calf after training on Thursday afternoon and had a scan later that day. Following the results the England medical team confirmed he would miss the upcoming two matches and he has returned to his club for further treatment."
Although Cleverley was not expected to start against Montenegro he may very well have been on the bench. Cleverley has become an England regular under Roy Hodgson and last season started every game where he was available to the 66-year-old manager.
The full extent of Cleverley's injury has yet to be determined but David Moyes, who succeeded the retired Alex Ferguson as manager of English champions United before the start of the current campaign, will hope it is not too serious. Presently, Marouane Fellaini, Cleverley's fellow United midfielder, is playing with a wrist injury that is set to require surgery while star striker Robbin van Persie has been reported to be suffering with a toe injury.
As for England, Hodgson has plenty of midfield options in a squad captained by Steven Gerrard and containing the likes of Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard and Arsenal rising star Jack Wilshere. England must beat both Montenegro and Poland, who they face at Wembley on Tuesday, if they are to be certain of a place at next year's World Cup in Brazil.
Dropped points could see England consigned to a play- off or, worse still, miss out on appearing in the 2014 finals completely. England's last failure to qualify for a World Cup finals came when they didn't make it to the 1994 edition in USA.