Joe Cole's hopes of winning selection for next year's World Cup are fading by the day because of the mystery injury which has blighted his season.
The name of the West Ham midfielder will again be absent when Sven Goran Eriksson names his England squad for the friendly against Sweden at Old Trafford on Saturday week.
Yesterday the West Ham manager Glenn Roeder admitted he has no idea when Cole will be fit to play again. "It's a real mystery injury," he said. "He has seen four specialists but they are basically saying there isn't a lot more they can do because there isn't anything showing. It is just a case of waiting for mother nature to take her course.
"If you took a scan of both his feet there would be no difference. If you can't find anything you can't operate." However, Roeder added: "He is physically fit and once the pain goes he could be playing after about seven to 10 days work on the training ground."
Cole is suffering from deep bruising of his right foot, an injury he originally picked up during the first pre-season match against Bishop's Stortford back in July. He has appeared in the first team since but has always finished in pain and Roeder refuses to risk him again until the problem has totally cleared up.
The youngster is spending this week at a hydrotherapy centre in Manchester after a steroid injection failed to cure the problem and his manager said: "He is still suffering some discomfort. We have been incredibly patient to see it all the way through. It is obviously of great concern to Joe and to us. It's very frustrating for him and everybody at the club.
"He comes to all the games – home and away – and is very much part of the squad and what goes on in the dressing room. It's really wounding him inside. I want him to stop putting so much pressure on himself. He sets himself such high standards but you wonder if he puts himself under such intense pressure that it makes it difficult for him to handle."
Another West Ham youngster, Grant McCann, has attacked the former manager Harry Redknapp for almost wrecking his Premiership career. The 21-year-old midfielder was set to leave Upton Park for Cheltenham in the summer on a free transfer, but the appointment of Roeder has signalled a change in fortune and a new two-year contract.
"If Harry had stayed I would definitely have left," McCann said. "He was one of those people, if he didn't like you, he didn't like you and he only offered me a new one-year deal. But Glenn has come in and given everyone a fresh go. He is always easy to talk to if you have any troubles and as soon as he came I said to my dad I'm going to stay if he offers the right contract."
McCann, whose free-kick won a reserve game against Chelsea on Wednesday night, has not figured for the first team since the 7-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers. However, he is adamant that he will get another chance this season and added: "It's up to Glenn but maybe if there are a couple of injuries I'll get my chance. If not I'll bide my time and wait."Reuse content