England’s injury woes depended today as David Beckham ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing for AC Milan. Beckham hobbled off after he went down without contact and him being officially ruled out of the World Cup is now just a formality. With Aaron Lennon having setback after setback as he attempts to return to fitness, Fabio Capello looked likely to rely on Beckham to come off the bench if not to start against the US on June 12. What could have been a strength for England with either Lennon’s pace or Beckham’s precision seems to be turning into a real question mark for a team that is already struggling at the back and in goal. Its all going Pete Tong for England in the build up to South Africa.
The 34-year old Beckham was only at Milan in a bid to force his way into Capello’s squad and had performed well against Man U in the Champions League despite the Italian’s tame exit. He was also coming off the high of his rapturous reception at Old Trafford in the week, almost unheard of for visiting players, his first since leaving for Real Madrid six years ago. Capello seemed likely to include Beckham in the squad, especially as England’s short supply of goal scorers after Wayne Rooney or any pace other than Lennon foreshadowed the importance of set pieces in England’s attack.
And its not looking good for Lennon either. He has not played in 2010 for either Tottenham or England, and his club manager Harry Redknapp said today that Lennon is “quite a way off.” He originally suffered a knee injury, but has since had setbacks to both his groin and calf. Redknapp struck an almost resigned tone when he said, “he could suddenly see a bit of light and come back and if he does he could be ready.”
Other options for Capello leave a great deal to be desired. Serial underachiever for the national team, Shawn Wright-Phillips of Manchester City, or Chelsea’s Joe Cole who is struggling to regain form or playing time after battling his own injuries the last couple of years, are the most likely picks. Wright-Phillips’ City teammate Adam Johnson is having a breakout season, but the 22 year old has never played a match with England’s senior national team. Giving Johnson his debut in England’s first World Cup game is something Steve McClaren would do, but its also why he’s now managing FC Twente and Capello is the England boss.
Add this new trouble down the right to England’s trouble in defense, its John Terry problem, and its shaky goal keeping situation, and this is not how Capello envisioned the run up to South Africa going. We’re still three months from kickoff in Rustenberg, but outside of Rooney’s blistering form, things aren’t looking good for the Three Lions.