The 31 year old Manchester United defender injured his knee at the end of an English training session this afternoon following a collision with Emile Heskey. Ferdinand was pictured leaving hospital  a few hours later  following a scan before news broke of the England Captain’s worst fears being realised that he is  set  to miss the  2010  South African World Cup.

Ferdinand has not played regularly this season for either his country or his club due to a reoccurring back problem  but  the centre-back was set to bolster his country’s defence alongside John Terry ahead of England’s World Cup opener against the USA on June 12.

Fabio Capello  could  ill afford to lose one of his most reliable defensive lynch-pins and Tottenham’s Michael Dawson looks likely to be called up as an emergency replacement. Whilst Dawson has proven to be a more than capable defender during Tottenham’s ascension to the Champions League he does not posses Ferdinand’s experience.

Now that  Ferdinand  is set to  miss out Ledley King looks  the most likely candidate to partner John Terry in England’s  opening group matches. The Spurs defender has proven his fitness following consecutive friendly appearances  and successful Austrian high-altitude training  sessions but his knees are unlikely to last a full tournament.

John Terry’s lack of form, King’s injury history and Dawson’s lack of big match experience renders Ferdinand’s absence a huge setback to Fabio Capello and England’s hopes of World Cup glory.

Drogba Out Too?

On the  same afternoon England Captain Rio Ferdinand missed  out on leading his country in  the World Cup  the  Chelsea and the Ivory Coast Captain Didier Drogba’s participation is  very much  in doubt following a fractured elbow sustained in a friendly  this afternoon  with Japan.

The giant Ivorian striker hurt his elbow following a clash with Japanese defender Marcus Tunaka a quarter of an hour into  the Ivory Coast’s 2-0 warm-up victory. Having netted 37 goals in all competitions for Chelsea this season Drogba was certain to be one of the strikers to watch ahead of the South African tournament.

The loss of their Captain and talisman would be a huge blow not just to the Ivory Coast but also to the organisers and fans attending the African World Cup. Ivory Coast manger Sven Goran Eriksson is hopeful his player will recover in time but acknowledges the seriousness of the injury: “It’s an elbow injury. How bad it is, I don’t know. He had a lot of pain. Of course I’m worried. He’s captain and one of the world’s best”.

As England comes to terms with the absence of their Captain just days before the World Cup finals, the Ivory Coast and much of the African continent waits with baited breath for confirmation that Didier Drogba could also miss out.

Ger McCarthy is author of the book entitled \’Off Centre Circle’,available on Amazon, which chronicles the curious life of anamateurIrish footballer.

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