Injury concerns mount heavily for Capello
Fabio Capello is facing up to a major injury headache ahead of England's opening UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland, after Chelsea duo John Terry and Frank Lampard both pulled out. The news was confirmed by the Stamford Bridge side tonight following the Blues' 2-0 victory over Stoke City.
In addition to the loss of Terry and Lampard, there are major doubts over three forwards: Bobby Zamora, who made his debut against Hungary but limped out of Fulham's 2-2 draw at Blackpool today, and Tottenham Hotspur pair Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, who were both tipped for a recall.
If that was not bad enough, Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale, who was expected to be selected as back-up to Joe Hart and Ben Foster, is also a likely absentee after getting a knock at Blackpool this afternoon - one of three matches attended by Capello. The Italian also saw Arsenal win at Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United's victory over West Ham United, during which Paul Scholes and Scott Parker caught the eye.
At a time when Capello is desperate for two positive results to relieve the pressure that built up after England's poor FIFA World Cup™ campaign, it is something the Italian could have done without.
"John Terry has tonight been ruled out of England's next two games due to injuries to his right hamstring and glute muscles," read a statement on Chelsea's official website. "John has spoken personally to the England management team, and Chelsea and England medical staff have also been in touch. All are agreed that John's injuries, that he has carried since pre-season, would benefit from a period of rest and rehabilitation."
Having discarded Matthew Upson, and with Ledley King and Jamie Carragher back in the international wilderness, it means Three Lions coach will not have any of the centre-backs he took to South Africa. Since then, Manchester United's Wes Brown has also announced his retirement.
Phil Jagielka and Michael Dawson both featured in the friendly win over Hungary earlier this month but they lack experience at the highest level, while Bolton Wanderers's Gary Cahill is yet to make an appearance for his country.
Gerrard, Scholes and Wilshere options
Lampard limped off in the second half of this afternoon's game, in which he missed a penalty, and will undergo a hernia operation that will sideline him for around a fortnight. "It is a very easy surgery, but he has started to feel pain and he needs to have the operation," explained Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti.
In Lampard's case, Capello does have the option of pulling captain Steven Gerrard back into a more orthodox central midfield role, although it will be interesting to see whether a renewed attempt is made to talk Scholes out of retirement or pull Jack Wilshere in from the U-21 squad.
Harry Redknapp fears Crouch may have broken a rib in the shock defeat to Wigan Athletic this afternoon. "I think he might have done a rib - he was in agony at half-time,” said the Spurs manager. "He's not sure if he's broken a rib or what he did, but he was in pain.”
Defoe has a long-standing groin complaint and Redknapp said: "I'm not sure about Jermain - only because I haven't asked him - whether he had any reaction from the groin or whether he needs an op or not.''