England captain Rio Ferdinand ruled out of World Cup by knee injury

From correspondents in Johannesburg, South Africa June 05, 2010
England captain Rio Ferdinand will miss 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa after sustaining a knee injury in training at their Bafokeng Sports Centre base in Rustenburg on Friday. Ferdinand sustained ligament damage to his left knee in the final minutes of England's second training session after their arrival in South Africa The Manchester United defender will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, scans confirmed. Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Michael Dawson will fly to South Africa to replace Ferdinand in the England squad. Steven Gerrard will stand in for Ferdinand as England captain throughout the World Cup. "It is obviously bad news and everyone with the squad is very disappointed and sorry for Rio," England coach Fabio Capello said. "It was an accidental injury in training, but had nothing to do with the pitch." Capello had earlier described the incident as a "minor tackle", but even then it was clear from his shocked demeanour that his captain's chances of being fit for the finals were slim. An FA statement confirmed the worst for Ferdinand. "Further to a scan arranged by the England medical staff immediately after training on Friday afternoon, Rio has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks and will therefore unfortunately miss the World Cup," the statement read. "Tottenham Hotspur's Michael Dawson has been contacted today and will fly to South Africa on Friday evening." Ferdinand missed large periods of the season with back and groin problems, but he was happy with his fitness at the end of the season and during England's two-week training camp in Austria before coming through the friendly internationals with Mexico and Japan unscathed. Capello now must decide whether Ledley King, Jamie Carragher, Matthew Upson or Dawson replaces Ferdinand at the heart of England's defence. Tottenham star King looked nervous on his first international appearance for three years in the 3-1 friendly win over Mexico in May, and he also suffers from a chronic knee problem that stops him training regularly. That could make Capello's successful attempt to persuade Liverpool defender Carragher to come out of international retirement all the important. Dawson was named in Capello's initial party of 30 for the finals, but he was excluded from the final 23 after not playing against either Mexico at Wembley or Japan in Graz. The former Nottingham Forest centre-back had an outstanding season forTottenham, often alongside King, but is yet to make his international debut. West Ham's Upson has started nine of England's past 17 internationals, but Carragher or King are likely to partner John Terry in the Group C opener against the United States in Rustenburg on June 12. Goalkeeper David James - named as No.1 choice ahead of Robert Green and Joe Hart - meanwhile has what Capello termed "only a slight knee problem", but midfielder Gareth Barry trained and appears to be back on track following his ankle injury sustained against Tottenham on May 5. "Barry started training with the team and he is improving every day," Capello said. Agence France-Presse


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