Terry to miss Montenegro match
England's plans for Tuesday's UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro have taken another shuddering blow with the news that John Terry has been forced to pull out with a back injury.
Terry is the third player to withdraw from Fabio Capello's squad in as many days following the previous departures of Phil Jagielka and Aaron Lennon. He is also the most significant given the Chelsea skipper was virtually certain to face the Eastern Europeans, who have won all three matches so far and head to Wembley at the top of Group G.
The Football Association confirmed the news in a short statement this evening.
"John Terry has returned to Chelsea this evening with a back injury," read the statement.
"Terry was assessed by England medical staff on Sunday and will not be fit to play any part in Tuesday's game against Montenegro.
"No further call-ups will be made at this time," the statement concluded.
Capello's decision not to bring in any new faces stems partly from the fact he called up Bolton's Gary Cahill as Jagielka's replacement on Friday.
It had been suggested last week that Terry would partner Jagielka in central defence, leaving Rio Ferdinand on the bench, which would have had the secondary effect of handing the captain's armband to Steven Gerrard.
Now Ferdinand becomes the kingpin of the entire England defence, where he will almost certainly be partnered by Joleon Lescott.
The dramatic events are a reminder of how quickly situations can change in international football, and places a huge amount of trust in Ferdinand, who has played just four times since making his comeback from the knee injury that ruled him out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
If there is any comfort for Capello, it comes from the knowledge that Lescott performed admirably alongside Jagielka in last month's victory over Switzerland in Basle.
Nevertheless, it is hardly an ideal piece of news just 48 hours before a match England have to win in order to avoid finding their hopes of reaching the finals, which will be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine, becoming unnecessarily complicated.
Concern for Chelsea
For Terry, it is the return of an injury that he had an operation to cure in 2006. The 29-year-old is notorious for shrugging off minor problems but was forced out of last month's double-header, which started with a victory over Bulgaria, with a hamstring injury.
It will mean he has only featured once for his country since the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The extent of Terry's injury will be a matter of concern for Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, given that Alex and Yossi Benayoun have been ruled out for three weeks and six months respectively since the Blues were last in action against Arsenal a week ago.
Chelsea, who have dropped just three points so far this season, face a tricky trip to Aston Villa on Saturday and have a UEFA Champions League double-header with Spartak Moscow sandwiching fixtures against Wolves and Blackburn before they face Liverpool at Anfield on November 7.