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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Gerrard's loss is a massive blow

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England's World Cup chances look grim following the news that Steven Gerrard has been forced to withdraw from Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad because of a groin injury.

With David Beckham's fitness still a cause for concern ahead of the first group game against Sweden, the problems are really starting to build up.

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I don't think England have a natural successor to Gerrard
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Mark Lawrenson

England only possess four or five world-class players. Scratch beneath the surface and there really is not much else.

Compare them to the French, who can replicate top-quality players in every position, and you can see how big a blow losing Gerrard is.

I don't think England have a natural successor to Gerrard.

There is no-one who plays the way he does in that central position.

He is strong in the tackle, has a big, long stride, is a great passer of the ball and has a great engine.

He also links up well with Beckham on the right side of midfield.

Of course, until England play Sweden on 2 June, nobody knows what Eriksson has in mind.

But, in my view, Gerrard's absence seriously damages England's chances of qualifying from their group.

Steve Gerrard
Gerrard has been forced to pull out with a groin injury
Maybe they will be able to overcome the loss of the Liverpool midfielder.

After all, you never know what can happen in a World Cup.

Just ask Bobby Robson.

Against Poland in the 1986 World Cup finals, the England manager was forced to make changes to key personnel.

He was without his midfield pair of Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins because of injury and suspension.

But then up stepped Gary Lineker to score a hat-trick and secure passage to the next round.

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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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