Rio Ferdinand to miss World Cup

by William Abbs

Friday, June 4th, 2010

There was me thinking this was the calm before the storm. England arrived at their Rustenburg training base on Thursday morning with nine days of preparation and acclimatisation ahead of them before Saturday week’s opening group game against the United States. With only a low-key friendly against a local side to come, the national side’s focus should have been on training and – most importantly – staying fit.

The calm lasted for twenty-four hours. Rio Ferdinand is now almost certain to miss the World Cup after picking up a knee injury in England’s first training session. The team captain will seek a second opinion following the bleak verdict of the initial scan but Michael Dawson is set to fly out as his replacement within the next day.

Perhaps it had always been unrealistic to expect Rio to stay fit for the entire tournament. He made only 21 appearances for Manchester United last season as a succession of niggling injuries to his back and groin made it impossible for him to enjoy an extended run of games. As a consequence, the 31-year-old struggled to replicate his form of recent years on the occasions that he did appear for club or country.

But even though Rio was troubled early on against a vibrant Mexico side last week he improved as the first half went on before being substituted at the interval, and then he played solidly against Japan six days later. More importantly, after coming through those two warm-up games unscathed, it had been hoped that the centre-back was fitter than he had been all season and so was ready for a month’s unbroken football at the World Cup. A challenge by Emile Heskey has put paid to those hopes, however, and so Rio will be denied the opportunity to compete in his fourth World Cup.

England must now prepare for the tournament without their captain. Deciding who will skipper the side is a straightforward choice, with Steven Gerrard ready to take the armband. Rio’s place in defence will be harder to fill. Ledley King started against Mexico and is probably the most likely player to partner John Terry against the US. The Spurs defender has chronic injury issues of his own, of course, meaning that Jamie Carragher could yet complete his England comeback by lining up in Rustenburg. With Matthew Upson and the recalled Dawson also in the squad, the thinnest of silver linings to this setback comes from the fact that Capello at least has plenty of options to cope with Rio’s absence.

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  • dexylongshot

    Truly gutted for him, a cruel twist of fate but sometimes these things work out for the best, look at Sir Geoff.

  • W.A.

    Precisely. I know it’s going back a bit but Ledley King did well at Euro 2004 alongside Terry when Rio was banned. That was arguably England’s best tournament under Eriksson.

  • Matt

    Here’s not been the same player for ages, he looks likely to drop a clanger at any moment. It’s no loss, we have marty upson and jamie g.

  • Matt

    Drogba also out, the term cry wolf springs to mind. Kama or what?

  • Mike

    Feeling gutted for Ferdinand- finally gets to be captain and then does his knee. Emile Heskey= scapegoat.

  • Matt

    I really hope not, heskeys confindence is fragile enough as it is

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