Injuries hobble England World Cup planning
Rooney, Barry among the wounded
England coach Fabio Capello was awaiting an update on Wayne Rooney's latest injury problem on Monday, one day before he has to send his provisional World Cup squad to FIFA.
Rooney limped off the field toward the end of Manchester United's final Premier League game against Stoke on Sunday.
United manager Alex Ferguson said it was a recurrence of the groin injury the striker had suffered in training on April 22, although he said he believed Rooney would still make it to the World Cup.
The problem for Capello, however, is that he has several more players either injured, in danger of breaking down at any time or only recently back from long-term problems just as he nears the crunch in his planning for the World Cup in South Africa.
The Italian has placed great importance on the team winning its opening game against the United States, its main group rival, and all these injury woes could upset his preparations.
"We do have problems and I have 24 hours to decide," Capello said Monday. "I will ensure that the players will be fit [for the World Cup]."
Capello has until midnight Tuesday to send his provisional squad of 30 to FIFA, then has to trim the roster to the final 23 players for the World Cup by June 1.
The England manager spent much of Monday attending events at Wembley and the London Stock Exchange. He was due to hold a briefing with reporters Tuesday to discuss his squad and injury headaches.
Dropping like flies
Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry, who appeared to be a certainty to go to the championship before his injury in last week's game against Tottenham, has been ruled out for three more weeks with ankle ligament damage. That means he will miss World Cup warm-up games against Mexico and Japan and training camps at altitude in Austria.
Rio Ferdinand, who is set to be England's captain at the World Cup, has a problem with his lower back that flares up repeatedly and has caused him to miss many of Man United's games this season.
World Cup veterans David Beckham and Michael Owen were ruled out weeks ago because of injuries and, in Owen's case, a lack of form.
Ledley King, a likely backup for Ferdinand, has such problems with his knees that he barely trains and usually misses every other game for Tottenham. That would make him a liability at the World Cup where teams play every five days.
"I am happy that Ledley King has played four games [for Tottenham] in 15 days," Capello said. "And I am happy that he played four games well."
Joleon Lescott has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since March but Ashley Cole is back after breaking his ankle. He scored in the last game of the season in Chelsea's 8-0 demolition of Wigan that clinched the Premier League title.
Wayne Bridge, who was expected to be Cole's backup, has ruled himself out, however, deciding to quit playing for England after reports that teammate John Terry had an affair with his ex-girlfriend. It was the massive publicity that followed those allegations that prompted Capello to take the captaincy away from Terry.
With so many defensive problems to solve, Capello may even consider recalling Jamie Carragher at the age of 32, with reports suggesting that the Liverpool defender is now willing to end his three-year international retirement.
Aaron Lennon is fully fit after another long spell out with a groin injury and Capello has the luxury of choosing from several players on the right of midfield despite the absence of Los Angeles Galaxy star Beckham.
By contrast, he is struggling to find a consistent goalkeeper and the right strike partner for Rooney, while the likes of Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey and Theo Walcott have struggled to find any form in the last few weeks of the season.