England’s World Cup preparations in South Africa have suffered a heavy blow with the news that the captain, Rio Ferdinand, has been ruled out of the tournament with knee injury.
The central defender sustained an injury to his left knee in a tackle during the final couple of minutes of England’s first training session.”Rio picked up a knee problem in training,” said Fabio Capello. “It happened near the end.” Ferdinand was taken to hospital for a scan and emerged on crutches on Friday. Tottenham defender Michael Dawson is heading to South Africa to replace Ferdinand.Ferdinand had been optimistic of enjoying an injury-free World Cup after a season dogged by problems at Manchester United.He was able to feature in barely a third of their Premier League campaign but had trained with no setbacks during England’s two-week camp in Austria and also came through the friendly internationals with Mexico and Japan unscathed.Meanwhile, Ivory coast captain Didier Drogba looks set to join Rio Ferdinand after fracturing his arm in a friendly against Japan on Friday. The in form striker Didier Drogba is suspected to have fractured his elbow. Drogba had put his country 1-0 ahead with a free-kick in the 15th minute against Japan before going down following a challenge from the Japan defender Tulio - off whom Drogba’s goal had deflected in - and he left the pitch in visible distress. Drogba was immediately taken to hospital in Sion, Switzerland, where the Ivorians have been undergoing altitude training. Sven-Goran Eriksson said the team hadn’t officially ruled its captain out. “We are not sure yet,” Eriksson said, saying Drogba’s participation was “still a possibility.”
“Of course I am worried, he’s our captain and one of the best players in the world,” said Eriksson, who attached no blame to Tulio. “It was unlucky, he didn’t want to hurt anyone. Football is a game of contact.” However, his teammate Kolo Toure claims that Drogba told him he would miss the World Cup. “For him, he said, the World Cup is finished,” Toure said. The injury is a devastating blow to the player, who was hoping to crown the finest season of his career.