The armchair guide to Rio's dodgy knee...

... and the England team's other suspect bones, joints and muscles that willdominate the next five weeks


David James (Knee/shoulder)

A recurring knee injury forced the goalkeeper to undergo a special training regime last year and prevented him playing more than two games in seven days. Yesterday, Fabio Capello revealed that his absence from the morning's training session was caused by "a little problem with his knee after the long flight". Last year James had surgery on his shoulder after which he wrote an article complaining at the lack of appropriate medical care for players. "What I can't understand is why clubs who pay out millions in wages don't invest in the best physiotherapy available. Why risk bringing a player back too quickly, only for the problems to return?"

Worry factor: 2 stars

Glen Johnson (Knee)

A tear in his right knee ligament, similar to Rio Ferdinand's injury, put the Liverpool right-back out of action for a month at the end of last year. He had previously missed three games with a calf problem. The medial ligament is on the inside of the knee, linking the thigh bone, and is vulnerable to a collision – usually with the knee of an opponent. Immediate treatment involves resting the affected limb, applying ice to reduce the swelling and keeping it elevated. After that a knee brace is recommended to take the strain off the joint and protect it in the early stages of recovery.

Worry factor: 2 stars

Rio Ferdinand (Knee/back)

The fragility of the bodies on which England's World Cup hopes rest was underlined yesterday as the England captain was ruled out of the tournament after sustaining a serious knee injury during the team's first day of training. He hobbled off the pitch after being hurt in a tackle by striker Emile Heskey, and could be out for four weeks. His fitness was already in doubt after he admitted in March that he had hidden the extent of a back problem, which had left him "bent over like an old hunchback" and struggling to walk, from his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. He returned to United's team after a course of spinal injections but was plagued all season by back, calf and groin injuries.

Worry factor: 5 stars

Ledley King (Knee)

The Spurs defender has been plagued by chronic knee problems, which have defied efforts to find a remedy. In recent seasons he has been limited to one game a week and has been unable to train with the team, instead exercising on his own. His fitness regime has included a lot of swimming to take the weight off his knees. His manager Harry Redknapp has called him "an absolute freak" for being able to perform at the top level of the sport despite not training. Redknapp said: "There's no cure. There's no cartilage, nothing to operate on. It's just bone on bone. So it's just a question of managing it. It swells up after games and it normally takes seven days to recover."

Worry factor: 4 stars

John Terry (Metatarsal)

The former England captain landed awkwardly after a challenge during training last month and it was feared he had broken a metatarsal in his foot. He was taken off the pitch on a stretcher but examination revealed only minor bruising. However, Terry feared the worst and for a man used to injury and the pain associated with it, that suggests it could return to haunt him. Terry has had problems with his right foot before – he broke it in three places after clashing with Emmanuel Eboué, the Arsenal player, two and a half years ago. Any further strain on the foot could end his participation in the campaign.

Worry factor: 2 stars

Ashley Cole (Ankle)

The Chelsea left back had surgery on his ankle in February after breaking it in a Premier League match against Everton and was out for two months. He returned at the end of the season to share in Chelsea's Premier League and FA Cup double, but there will be lingering doubts about whether his ankle can withstand the pressure of the tournament. Yesterday, he said: "I do feel fitter than before, actually. I feel sharper than before I got injured and am happy with the rehab. The physios were brilliant with me and I have come back very strong."

Worry factor: 3 stars

Gareth Barry (Ankle)

The 29-year-old midfielder last week underwent rigorous tests on the ankle injury he sustained against Tottenham in the Premier League. The ankle is one of the most vulnerable joints in football and Barry's will be the focus of particular anxiety. Damage is usually caused when the ankle is twisted inwards, tearing the ligaments and the capsule which surrounds the joint. The injury causes bleeding within the tissue, producing a swollen ankle and pain. Taping the ankle can help reduce the risk of sprains.

Worry factor: 1 stars

Steven Gerrard (calf/hamstRING)

The Liverpool captain gave England manager Fabio Capello a scare last week when he pulled up sharply half a minute into a practice match at the national team's camp in the Austrian Alps with a calf strain. He received treatment for 20 minutes to his right calf and was limited to light jogging at the end of the training session. The midfielder missed an England-Spain friendly last year after tearing his left hamstring which put him out of action for three weeks. Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was criticised at the time for taking Gerrard off when the midfielder complained of a pain in the muscle, but Benitez insisted such injuries were the result of the pressure to play him in every game.

Worry factor: 1 stars

Wayne Rooney (Groin/ankle)

The Manchester United striker was seen writhing in agony clutching his ankle during the club's Champions League match against Bayern Munich in March, but the injury turned out to involve only "minor ligament damage". He gave England another scare last month when he suffered a recurrence of his groin injury during United's victory over Stoke City. Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said: "Wayne has aggravated his groin again. I don't think it's serious. He will be OK for England." Rooney fractured the fourth metatarsal in his foot against Chelsea in May 2006 and had to be carried off on a stretcher. He wore a plaster cast boot for six weeks but was said to have made a "fantastic recovery".

Worry factor: 3 stars

Aaron Lennon (Groin)

The 23-year-old Spurs winger suffered a tear in his groin while playing against West Ham in December. He was initially expected to be out for a month, but ended up spending four months on the sidelines, returning to play Manchester United at the end of April. A groin strain relates to the adductor muscles on the inside of the thigh and happens when they are stretched beyond their limit, resulting in a tear. Tears are classified as grade 1, 2 or 3 and in the most serious cases may require surgery. Groin problems are common in football owing to the extensive range of hip movement and large, shearing forces that are placed across the pelvis when striking the ball.

Worry factor: 3 stars

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