The Sunderland winger Adam Johnson yesterday became the latest England player to withdraw owing to injury from Roy Hodgson's squad for the World Cup qualifier against Moldova tomorrow.
The 24-year-old picked up a thigh injury during the squad's final training session yesterday. The squad are due to fly to Chisinau today. The decision to send him back to Sunderland for treatment was made yesterday afternoon and it was not clear at that point whether a replacement would be sought.
The timing of Johnson's withdrawal makes it tough for Hodgson to replace him in the squad. The usual source of late replacements for the senior squad is the under-21s but they are in Baku for a game against Azerbaijan tonight.
Johnson, 24, is the latest player to withdraw following injuries to Andy Carroll, out for six weeks with a hamstring problem, and Ashley Cole, who is hoping to be fit for Tuesday's qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley. Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young were ruled out before the squad was announced.
Hodgson picked a 24-man squad in order to accommodate late withdrawals and is well-covered for wide players with James Milner, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain among his midfielders. Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck can also play wide.
Johnson only completed his £12m move to Sunderland from Manchester City two weeks ago. One of the reasons cited was to push his case with England, where he has been overlooked in the past, missing out on the squads for Euro 2012 and the last World Cup.
The defender Gary Cahill said that the England players were prepared for challenging conditions at the Zimbru Stadium, including the potential state of the pitch.
Cahill said: "It is going to be difficult. The conditions over there are meant to be really bad. We are going over there to train on the pitch because it is not great, somebody was telling me. We will see more of them in the next couple of days."