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England’s Euro 2012 plans hit by third injury blow as Gary Cahill is ruled out with double jaw fracture

Published: June 4, 2012 | 8:21 am
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THE crock struck three yesterday when Gary Cahill pulled out of England’s Euro 2012 squad with a double fracture of the jaw.
Chelsea defender Cahill is the third player forced out in a week after central midfield duo Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard had their hopes of taking part in the finals in Poland and Ukraine dashed by injury.
Liverpool’s Martin Kelly – who won his first cap only nine days ago in Norway – was called in while scans on John Terry showed no serious damage to his hamstring after the clash with Belgium.
It was Saturday’s friendly that did for Cahill. He was shoved into keeper Joe Hart by Dries Mertens and was immediately rushed off for X-rays.
Roy Hodgson could have looked to Man City’s title-winning stopper Micah Richards to replace Cahill but didn’t.
Rio Ferdinand is also vastly more experienced than Kelly but with Terry due in court next month for allegedly racially abusing his brother, Anton, Hodgson did not consider the Man United stalwart.
When Hodgson revealed his squad last month he insisted Ferdinand’s omission was for “football reasons” – words that ring even more hollow in the face of the crisis he now faces in defence.
England captain Steven Gerrard said: “I am angry because we have lost big players with a tournament eight or nine days away.
“For us, it’s a massive blow. Cahill’s performances in the past few months for Chelsea have been colossal.”
England will have to revise their plans for the Group D opener against France in Donetsk next Monday when Cahill was expected to partner Terry.
The former Bolton man was replaced at Wembley by Joleon Lescott.
Phil Jagielka – called up from the standby list after Barry was ruled out with a stomach strain is the alternative – with Man United’s Phil Jones presumably now acting as fourth choice in his favoured central position.
Hodgson was brassed off by Mertens’ challenge on Cahill. He said: “Unfortunate is too kind a word. When a striker is chasing a defender who is feeding a ball to the keeper, nudges and pushes take the defender into the keeper. It is something if you have been a keeper you take very unkindly to.”
Mertens admitted he felt “terrible”. He said: “It was an accident. It was unintentional. He blocked me off and he’s hit his head on Hart’s shoulder. But there was no malice in it.
“I feel for him. If that was me in his place, getting injured like that a week before the Euros, I’d feel terrible.”
Including Norwich keeper John Ruddy, who broke a finger on only the second day of training, Hodgson has now lost almost a fifth of his original squad.
It is hardly the best backdrop to his first major tournament as England manager, for which he was given only six weeks’ notice in the first place.
Hodgson probably will not breathe easily until Terry, Danny Welbeck, Gerrard and Scott Parker have been assessed tomorrow for minor niggles, although it is not
envisaged England will have to make any further changes before they leave for their tournament base in Krakow on Wednesday afternoon.
Lescott reacted to the news of Cahill’s fitness blow, condemning the challenge from Mertens that led to the injury.
He tweeted: “Gutted to hear Gaz is ruled out. The challenge that caused it was more reckless and dangerous than most two-footed tackles so why only yellow?”
But Mertens admitted he was surprised Belgium dominated so much of the game and insisted they should not have lost 1-0.
He added: “It’s not normal to dominate the possession against England as much as we did.
“We didn’t look out of place and kept the ball for long periods, creating chances as well and causing them problems. However, we just didn’t take those chances.”


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