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Injuries threaten World Cup fever: Rio Ferdinand heads home; Drogba, Pirlo in grave doubt

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didier_drogba.jpgA sudden attack of the injury demon to some of our favourite teams has reduced the enthusiasm with which we are anticipating one of the world's biggest sporting events. England Captain Rio Ferdinand is set to be heading home after attaining a knee injury in training on Friday. Didier Drogba's elbow injury during a warm up game against Japan has reduced the hopes of Ivory Coast fans by quite some way and so has the absence of Andrea Pirlo due to a muscle injury, done the same for the Azzurri faithful. These injuries to some of the world's best players participating in this edition of the FIFA World Cup is not only bad for their countries chances at the World Cup but it also reduces the quality that could have been on display had these unforeseen circumstances left the grand spectacle alone.

Rio Ferdinand's presence in the heart of the English defence alongside John Terry was perhaps the reason why we trusted them to go all the way this year. JT & Rio are arguably the best defensive pairing on the international stage and Ferdinand's absnece from the World Cup is a huge dampener on England's morale and confidence. The English Captain sustained a knee injury during training on Friday and has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks. He will be replaced by Michael Dawson in England's squad of 23. Mathew Upson, Jamie Carragher, Ledley King or Dawson may partner Terry amicably when the English are up against weaker oppositions but one fails to trust them against the big guns that the Three Lions might face if they progress to the latter stages of the tournament.

A lot will rest on the shoulders of former skipper John Terry as he is only other centre half of genuine international quality in this side. Ferdinand would have been making his 4th successive FIFA World Cup appearance had this injury not hampered his entrance into English folklore and one wonders how Fabio Capello, with all his tactics and charisma, will lead a team hurt by the absence of their captain. Vice Captain Steven Gerrard will take over the arm band and will attempt to lead the Three Lions to greatness.

Ivory Coast are placed in Group G aka ‘the Group of Death' which consists of Portugal, Brazil and North Korea. If anyone ever gave them a chance of making it out of this puddle of quicksand, unscathed and successful, it was because they possessed the diabolical Didier Drogba. But now Sven-Goran Eriksson and his team will be gasping for breath after their captain's injury news knocked the life out of all of them. "It's an elbow injury but we don't know how bad it is, we (are going) straight to the hospital," said Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson after the Ivory Coast beat fellow World Cup bound Japan 2-0. "I think we should get an answer before we leave. If it's serious, it's very worrying; he is our captain, one of the best strikers in the world."

Andrea Pirlo became the latest addition to the injured list after left calf muscle strain suffered in Italy's defeat to Mexico last night. He will surely miss their upcoming friendly against Switzerland, with doubts hovering over his availability during the course of his team's title defence in South Africa. "Pirlo's is an injury that worries me, but luckily we have time," Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci told ANSA News Agency. "Everybody reacts in a different way and Pirlo will be monitored day by day." He may be absent for Italy's opening game as well if reports are to be believed. The AC Milan playmaker was named the man of the match of the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and his absence in any number of matches will be clearly felt by the Azzurri.

File Photograph Copyright: Charles Nam

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