Fabio Capello will take a youthful looking squad to Berlin for the England international against Germany on Wednesday night, due in part to the injuries to some of the regular first-team choices.
Wayne Rooney & Rio Ferdinand both missed Manchester United’s game against Stoke on Saturday through injury, and joined the list of others that were ruled out of Fabio Capello’s choice before the weekend fixtures, including Wes Brown, Joe Cole & Ashley Cole.
John Terry was substituted a few minutes before the final whistle against West Brom on Saturday, in a 3-0 nil win, with a problem to his right foot; and LIverpool’s Steven Gerrard played a full 90 minutes, showing no signs of injury but was ruled out of the squad when a post-match medical revealed he had a torn muscle in his leg which would take 7-10 days to revcover from – just in time for Liverpool’s next Premier League match at home to Fulham.
Manchester City’s goalkeeper, Joe Hart was substituted in the Sunday 2-2 draw with Hull City and has also been ruled out. He is replaced by Blackburn & England’s former number one, Paul Robinson.
Most ominous of all those being named in the squad only to receive an ‘injury’ over the weekend is Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard because he wasn’t substituted during the game, showed no discomfort during the match, and is only expected to be out while Liverpool aren’t playing competitive matches.
Adding fuel to the ‘club versus country’ fire, in an unprecedented move, Fabio Capello has said he will make his own decision whether John Terry & Steven Gerrard are fit to play for England against Germany once they have been assessed by the England medical team.
England friendly injuries have increased over the past few years, but I’m suprised if any of the injuries are not valid as Fabio Capello has already made it clear that players need to earn their place in the England team, and part of that is complete respect for Capello and his way of doing things.
As Rio Ferdinand said, the England regime is stricter under Mr Capello and he has made it clear to them, it is “his way or the highway”.
But instead of just believing every player should be proud to play for their country, even in meaningless friendlies, consider the cost of injury to a top player while playing for England. Newcastle know only too well the cost of paying a large sum of money for a star player, Michael Owen, only to watch him receive a lengthy injury while playing for England.
The money now involved in the Premiership and the cost of missing out on a Champions League place is enormous. Therefore, is it really a surprise LIverpool may possibly be making more of Steven Gerrard’s injury than if Liverpool were playing in the Champions League this week?
Furthermore, his Liverpool team-mate, Robbie Keane has also surprisingly picked up a knock and will miss the game for Ireland!
If I was the owner of a Premier League team I would rather it be written in my players contract that the club will make a decision whether to release him for international friendlies and other meaningless games; and fight a campaign against the FA to say if the player is under contract they do not have a right to over-rule the club.
Look at Aston Villa, a great 2-0 victory against Arsenal at The Emirates on Saturday. Aston Villa are now joint 4th place, and look the most likely of all the chasing pack to actually break into the top four this season and win the club a huge amount of money by gaining entry into the prestigious Champions League.
But Aston Villa have several players on call for their countries this week including Ashley Young, Gareth Barry & Gabriel Agbonlahor for England. Gabriel Agbonlahor is vital to Aston Villa’s success, yet a player who has already missed vital games for his club and country through injury. Imagine all three of these players received injuries while playing for England. How would that affect Aston Villa’s chances of having to play 100% every week to keep up with the big four?
The Premier League is now so full of riches that I think there needs to be a sensible debate as to whether England & the FA have the right to call up players for mid-season friendlies, so clubs can be more honest about the true extent of any so-called ‘injuries’.