England fear the Dyer consequence

World Cup 2002: Eriksson's plans are further undermined as Newcastle midfielder is hit by injury blow on the day Beckham signs new contract
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The Independent Online

Kieron Dyer, the 23-year-old Newcastle United midfield player whose inclusion in Sven Goran Eriksson's England World Cup squad was confirmed on Thursday, was last night waiting to hear if an injury to his right knee suffered against Southampton had ended his chances of going to the finals in Japan and Korea.

A fierce tackle by the Moroccan Tahar El Khalej, for which he was sent off, brought the highly promising Dyer crashing to the ground. He was taken off on a stretcher and after the 3-1 defeat for his side the Newcastle manager, Bobby Robson, was furious that he could not immediately get through to the Football Association to discuss the situation.

He said Dyer urgently needed a scan to discover whether the injury was to ligaments or cartilage. If it proved to be a cartilage injury, Robson said it would "end Dyer's hopes of going to the World Cup''.

Dyer left Southampton's new stadium on crutches and took a taxi to his home in Ipswich. He will have the scan after joining up with England today. Robson said the only hopeful sign was that the swelling was not as bad as he had expected.

Dyer, whose most recent England appearance against Paraguay was not outstanding, was nevertheless expected to play on the problem left side for England, where his pace and trickery could be a threat. His inclusion in the squad was a reward for his fightback after a series of injuries that at times this season seemed likely to cost him international recognition.

Robson said: "He has a badly jarred knee and is obviously in pain. He is now the FA's responsibility as much as ours. He got brought down doing what he does best – getting behind defenders. If it costs him his World Cup place it will be a very cruel blow.'' Asked about the tackle, the manager said: "He got a red card, didn't he? It was violent play.''

Robson added: "Kieron's a bit tearful and he's in pain and it's tender, so he'll have a scan. I'm not pre-empting the situation, but he could have some knee ligament damage. He was going to Ipswich tonight to get his gear ready for assembling with the squad on Monday."

At Anfield, Dyer's fellow midfielder Steven Gerrard was taken off midway through the first half of Liverpool's 5-0 victory over Ipswich, but the damage may only be minor. Gerrard was said later to be suffering from a slight groin strain.

England already have injury concerns over captain David Beckham, who is battling his way back to fitness after breaking a bone in his foot, and Nicky Butt, who has a knee injury. The England coach Sven Goran Eriksson, no doubt dreading yesterday's final skirmishes, has Liverpool's Danny Murphy on stand-by. He may need to contemplate alerting further troops, such as Blackburn's Matt Jansen – desperately unlucky to lose out in the first place – Real Madrid's Steve McManaman and West Ham's Trevor Sinclair.

Meanwhile, Michael Carrick may be forced to pull out of England's squad for the European Under-21 Championship finals in Switzerland, which start this week. The West Ham midfielder suffered a recurrence of a groin injury during yesterday's victory over Bolton.

Earlier, the news for England and United had been bright when Beckham signed a new three-year contract for the deposed champions. The deal, which will keep the 27-year-old Beckham at Old Trafford until the end of June 2005 (with the option of a further year's extension), is reportedly worth £90,000 per week and represents a 300 per cent rise."I am absolutely delighted," he said before being paraded at Old Trafford before the 0-0 draw against Charlton. "The club has bent over backwards to be fair in their dealings and I always knew that United were the only club I ever wanted to play for."

By putting pen to paper on the biggest contract in the history of English football, Beckham eased the fears of his club's fans. Image rights had been the sticking point.

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