England’s hopes of landing a second World Cup have been dealt a huge blow after scrum-half Danny Care was ruled out of the tournament earlier today.
The Harlequins man is out for a minimum of six weeks with a toe injury sustained in England’s 19-9 defeat against Wales at the weekend and will not travel to New Zealand as part of Martin Johnson’s squad.
Johnson said: “We are all hugely disappointed for Danny who has worked extremely hard and has been an important part of the squad throughout our Rugby World Cup preparations.
“He featured in both warm-up fixtures and was on course for selection so this injury is really disappointing for him personally and for us as a squad.
“Nobody wants to see a player ruled out at this stage through injury and we all wish Danny a speedy recovery.”
The vacant scrum-half spot will now be filled by one of the relatively inexperienced Ben Youngs, Joe Simpson or Richard Wigglesworth – although full-back Ben Foden has always insisted he is a natural No.9.
The loss of Care has thrown Johnson’s preparations into, if not turmoil, then inconvenience, with the England boss saying just two days ago that he had already decided on his squad.
England have remained fairly steady in the betting at 14/1 to win the title and it’s still 4/1 for them to make a third consecutive final.
However, the loss of such a crucial player in such a crucial position means there is now the possibility of backing Argentina to defeat England in the opening world cup game on September 14 – especially considering England’s lack of attacking thrust against Wales at the weekend.