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Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Saturday, 5 June 2010 10:27 UK

Capello bemoans England luck after Rio Ferdinand blow

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Dawson arrives at England's World Cup camp

Manager Fabio Capello says England have been "cursed" by bad luck after captain Rio Ferdinand's injury-enforced departure from their World Cup squad.

Ferdinand was ruled out of the whole tournament after damaging knee ligaments in England's first training session in South Africa.

"It couldn't have been much worse on my first day," said Capello.

"It was an accidental injury in training, but nothing to do with the pitch. It's the curse of the captain."

Ferdinand, who endured an injury-hit campaign with Manchester United, was appointed England captain in February after Capello stripped John Terry of the honour in the wake of revelations about the Chelsea defender's private life.

But the 31-year-old did not take to the field with the captain's armband on until England's two pre-World Cup friendlies against Mexico and Japan, and must now watch Steven Gerrard lead the side into the sport's biggest tournament.

PHIL McNULTY'S BLOG

Tottenham's Michael Dawson flew out to replace Ferdinand in the squad but for Capello, the disruption of losing his captain and key defender just a week before England's first game of the tournament was a hammer blow.

"All the players who are here with me are important. But he is one of the starting players, the captain, a leader," said Capello.

But the Italian said England would have to quickly move on from the setback, with much of the attention now focusing on who will be picked to partner Terry at the heart of England's back four.

"You have to take into account this might happen: sometimes it happens during a game, sometimes in training, sometimes before you get to a final," he said.

"You have to deal with it."

Ledley King and Matthew Upson, two of the candidates for the vacancy, both missed team training on Saturday.

King was training with England medical staff in the gym as part of the programme to manage his chronic knee condition, while Upson was suffering with a high temperature.

Ferdinand sustained the injury in the closing minutes of England's training session after an innocuous challenge from striker Emile Heskey.

"It was a tackle and then there was big pain," explained Capello.

Ferdinand is a big loss - Lampard

"He put his feet in the grass with Heskey and then he moved. The other players were upset. They stopped training."

Capello has made experienced midfielder Frank Lampard his new vice-captain following Ferdinand's injury, and the Chelsea star said he feared for Ferdinand after seeing the incident at close quarters.

"He's very down," said Lampard, who raised the prospect of Ferdinand staying with the England squad rather than returning to the UK.

"It's a huge competition, the biggest competition. It made me feel a bit sick in the stomach so I can't imagine how he feels."

Lampard, 31, added: "Rio is a top professional, a top lad and a top player and you feel for someone like that because he has put in a lot of hard work. He deserves to be at the biggest competition of our career and I feel for him personally.

"I'm very close to Rio, we've been through our careers together, and that's why it's upsetting to see that happen to a close mate."

Dawson, who is yet to be capped by England, arrived in South Africa on Saturday after what he described as a "crazy" 24 hours.

"It's a crazy game and things can change in a split second," he said.

"One minute I'm trying to arrange my holiday, then I get a call asking if I was on holiday because Rio had pulled out of training.

"I said 'no' and then I was just waiting by the phone before getting a call saying I would be picked up in an hour. It's been a crazy day."

Shearer - 'Let's win it for Rio'

Ferdinand's injury grabbed the headlines which may well have otherwise focused on midfielder Gareth Barry's return to training after an ankle injury.

Barry missed England's training camp in Austria as he continued his rehabilitation from the injury he sustained towards the end of the Premier League season playing for Manchester City.

But despite the boost of seeing Barry return to light training on Friday, Capello said he would be cautious in terms of when the 29-year-old would be back in contention to play.

"About Barry, we are happy because he's improving every day and getting better and better with every moment," said Capello.

"I spoke with him on Wednesday and he says he's really happy. There's no swelling and his confidence is rising. He is getting stronger.

"He will work harder every day and we will see what happens.

"But we will also go slowly. This is the worst period. If you go too fast, it's really dangerous.

"I'd prefer he didn't play against the United States [England's first game of the World Cup on 12 June] and is fit for the other games. We have to be careful at every moment."

Goalkeeper David James returned to training on Saturday after sitting out the initial session with a minor knee complaint.

Wayne Rooney

World Cup guide - England



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see also
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Ferdinand ruled out of World Cup
04 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
England training photos
04 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
England reveal 2010 squad numbers
03 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
England team land in South Africa
03 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Capello commits future to England
02 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Walcott left out of England squad
01 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Barry faces race to prove fitness
26 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Beckham targets comeback after op
16 Mar 10 |  Football
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010


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