Danny Welbeck missed England's training session in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, heightening concerns over his fitness for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ opener against Italy.

Reports emerged overnight that the Manchester United forward limped out of training on Tuesday with a leg injury. All eyes were therefore searching for Welbeck in England's part-open session at the Urca military base, yet there was no sign of him.

The severity of the injury is not known with the Football Association (FA) refusing to comment, although the fact he was one of just two absentees set off alarm bells.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the other member of the 23-man squad not to head out, with the attacking midfielder doing an individual programme as he continues his rehabilitation from a medial knee ligament complaint. That injury meant the 20-year-old was never likely to be involved against Italy, but the same cannot be said for Welbeck.

The forward looked likely to start on the left flank in Manaus on Saturday, with the setback potentially set to force manager Roy Hodgson into a rethink. Raheem Sterling looks likely to be the beneficiary of Welbeck's absence, having impressed during the pre-tournament camp despite only getting 39 minutes of action across the three warm-up friendlies.

Having not featured against Peru in their Wembley send-off, his red card against Ecuador after coming off the bench saw him banned against Honduras - a match Hodgson had planned to start him in.

Sterling had another chance to impress the Three Lions coach in training on Wednesday, which took place in 83 per cent humidity with the mercury hitting 25 degrees Celsius.

The players had access to water spray bottles during drink breaks at the session, where assistant Ray Lewington hobbled around in a cast after having surgery on his left knee.