Gerrard injury scare calls into question captaincy back-up
The news that Steven Gerrard pulled up with a calf injury during training in Austria yesterday will be white noise to the ears of those backing England to win the World Cup.
While the Liverpool captain has not been in the best form for his club, he remains an important player for England, not least for his role as vice captain.
As the man who will step into the breach should Rio Ferdinand’s multifarious injury woes come back to haunt him, Gerrard’s injury scare, which meant he missed an 11-a-side match and needed 20 minutes of pitch-side treatment, should not be underestimated.
A lack of Bobby Moore-type leadership could cost England, who have recently moved from 6/1 to 7/1 to lift the cup, now only joint third favourites with Argentina.
Should he fail to recover, the queue to replace him as vice captain will not have too many members.
Of the rest of the England squad only Ledley King and Matthew Upson are club captains, and neither can be considered first choice starters.
If Ferdinand did get injured, King would likely step in, but such a promotion to skipper could be seen as too rapid a progression for the defender who only played his first international match in three years against Mexico on Monday.
Wayne Rooney, many people’s tip for future England captain, has performed the role for Manchester United, but placing that extra responsibility on his shoulders would surely prove a burden at a time when so much is already expected of him.
Michael Dawson and Scott Parker have both taken the captain’s armband for their clubs at times this season but neither looks close to being named in the final 23-man squad.
This leaves Frank Lampard as the only possible replacement guaranteed of a starting berth, and whether Lampard, or the England fans who booed him not so long ago, would want that remains to be seen.
The clinical fashion with which Fabio Capello dismissed John Terry showed that, unlike some other country’s managers, he invests a level of importance to the job of leading a team on the pitch.
It’s very unlikely he’ll do a U-turn on the Chelsea captain and such a stance, while certain to command respect, limits the Italian’s options.
Could a lack of a Bobby Moore-style leader cost England? They are 10/3 to go out at the quarter-final stage.