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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
World Cup's missing stars

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England's injury crisis in the build-up to this World Cup has been well-documented. But it is not just Sven-Goran Eriksson who has seen his plans thrown into chaos.

On the eve of this year's tournament, BBC Sport Online profiles some of the big names who are missing.

There will be plenty of talent on display in the Far East - yet those who are missing could form a World Cup absentee XI quite capable of winning the trophy.


Belgium
Striker Emile Mpenza has been battling with a groin strain for many months, and finally gave up hope of making the World Cup in mid-May.

His 10 goals in 30 games for the Belgium mean his absence will leave coach Robert Waseige desperately short of attacking options.


England
Gary Neville was ruled out after becoming the second England player in a matter of weeks to break a metatarsal in his foot. Unlike David Beckham, however, Neville did not have enough time to recover.

Gerrard limps out of Liverpool's last game of the Premiership season
Steven Gerrard is a huge loss for England

Steven Gerrard limped out of Liverpool's final Premiership game with, it seemed initially, a minor strain. But it soon became apparent that he would require surgery on his groin.


France
Even a team as packed with talent as France will feel the loss of Zinedine Zidane.

The midfield legend could miss the champions' opening two games with a thigh strain.

The French are also missing the considerable talents of Arsenal's Robert Pires, who suffered cruciate ligament damage in the Gunners' FA Cup win over Newcastle.


Germany
For once, the "lucky old Germans" tag has not rung true. First Jens Nowotny, then Sebastian Deisler were ruled out with knee trouble.

Influential Bayer Leverkusen captain Nowotny damaged knee ligaments in his side's Champions League semi-final against Manchester United.

Playmaker Deisler's problem knee gave out during a friendly against Austria.


Ireland
While other teams bemoan their luck with injuries, Roy Keane's absence is an entirely different scenario.

Keane walks his dog after his much-publicised spat with the Irish management
Roy Keane will be watching the World Cup at home

His much-publicised departure after a spat with manager Mick McCarthy has apparently helped restore team harmony - but has robbed the Republic of a genuine world-class talent.


Italy
Coach Giovanni Trapattoni has been slightly more fortunate than some of his fellow European managers - but Juventus defender Gianluca Pessotto will not be with him in the Far East.

Pessotto cut his anterior cruciate knee ligament in a friendly against Uruguay in April.


Mexico
Suarez suffered a broken leg against the USA
Claudio Suarez is Mexico's most experienced defender
Claudio Suarez's astonishing 170 caps reveals just how important he is to Mexico's hopes.

But a broken leg suffered in a friendly against the USA has ensured the defender will not be adding to his world record international appearance tally.


Spain
First-choice goalkeeper Santiago Canizares suffered arguably the freakiest injury of all the players.

He was ruled out after he dropped a bottle of aftershave and a shard of glass severed a tendon in his foot.


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