Bad luck or history repeating itself, something’s clearly not right with English football in that seemingly everytime a major tournament squad is selected, there always seems to be an injury crisis which rules at least a couple of first-team regulars out much to the disappointment of the nation.
In the build-up to the 2002 World Cup every tom, dick and harry around the country became an expert on everything and anything to do with metatarsal bones. This was after Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville were ruled out after suffering the injury towards the end of the season. Danny Murphy (Gerrard’s replacement) fell to the same fate after being selected and was sent home from England’s training camp.
David Beckham also famously injured his metatarsal in Manchester United’s quarter-final Champions League second-leg at Old Trafford after being fouled by Deportivo La Coruna’s Argentine midfielder Aldo Duscher. Beckham miraculously recovered in time to make it to the Finals as England exited at the quarter-finals to eventual winners Brazil.
Euro 2004 was rare in that Sven-Goran Ericksson had virtually a full squad to choose from, well aside from Rio Ferdinand who was in the midst of serving a 6-month drugs ban for missing a routine drugs test in September 2003. John Terry stepped up to partner Sol Campbell in Rio’s absence performing well alongside the Arsenal veteran.
The Metatarsal-curse struck again leading into the 2006 World Cup in Germany when Wayne Rooney was struck down by the injury at Stamford Bridge going down under a firm challenge from Chelsea’s Ricardo Carvahlo. Rooney made the squad but was never fully fit, which didn’t help much when Michael Owen (who had only just come back after suffering a metatarsal injury of his own halfway through the season) hobbled of early on in England’s final group game against Sweden.
Fast forward six years and Fabio Capello was in charge as a confident England marched into South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. There were no injury problems until Emile Heskey collided with captain Rio Ferdinand in England’s first training session upon arriving in the rainbow nation with the defender going home with severe knee ligament damage.
Worse was to follow when Ledley King (who missed out on being selected in 2006 through injury) hardly renowned for his long-term fitness injured his groin warming-up against America before hobbling off at half-time as Jamie Carragher partnered John Terry in defence for the rest of England’s humiliating campaign.
With all those past injury-problems in mind, the FA would have surely hoped that any regular in the team would have been wrapped up in cotton-wool well before the end of the season and wouldn’t have been allowed to even get out of bed yet alone participate in further games and training sessions after the end of the domestic season.
Sadly England go into Euro 2012 with on the back of more injury problems that Paul Gascoigne, Remi Moses and Darren Anderton had across the entirety of their careers.
In goal John Ruddy has been ruled out with a finger injury.
In defence Chris Smalling and Kyle Walker were ruled out well before Hodgson named his squad with Gary Cahill being ruled out with a fractured jaw yesterday
In midfield Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell and Tom Huddlestone have been struggling with long-term injury problems whilst Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard who were both selected have only been ruled out in the last week with groin and knee problems respectively.
Finally up front Darren Bent who had been starting alongside Wayne Rooney throughout the qualifiers has been ruled out after picking up an ankle injury in February.
That’s a total of 10 players injured who would certainly benefit any squad. When you consider Ferdinand isn’t going to the tournament due to ‘non-footballing reasons’ and that Manchester City duo Micah Richards and Adam Johnson haven’t been selected as well, crticis may very well have a point when saying that England may indeed have a ‘B team’ in Poland and Ukraine.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87