Ferdinand fitness doubts threaten England place

Rio Ferdinand faces the axe from Fabio Capello's England squad for the friendly against Brazil next week if he does not prove his fitness by playing at Chelsea in Manchester United's top-of-the-table match on Sunday.

Capello and his assistants are concerned primarily about Ferdinand's condition – he missed facing Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and CSKA Moscow on Tuesday. If Sir Alex Ferguson does not consider him fit enough to play at Stamford Bridge on Sunday – the day the squad is announced – it will be difficult for Capello to involve him in the game a week on Saturday.

The doubts over the central defender come after his team-mate Wes Brown admitted that Ferdinand was still struggling with the back problems that plagued him last year. Ferdinand and Ferguson have both claimed the player's problem is a calf injury Ferdinand picked up before England's last two World Cup qualifiers, against Ukraine and Belarus, but that his back was no longer an issue.

Brown suggested otherwise. "Rio has been injured for a very long time and he's been getting a lot of pain in his back for a long time," he said. "I'm not sure how many months it's been going on but he's come to the stage where he's sorting it out now."

While Ferguson said on Monday that he blamed himself for allowing Ferdinand to play with calf trouble, Brown claimed it was his back complaint that was not being tackled. "If you are not fully fit and you try and play it's very hard," he said. "And, if you carry on playing with that same injury, week in, week out, it does make things even harder." Ferdinand had now "decided to sort it out",Brown added.

Ferdinand has been responsible for a handful of high-profile errors this season that have tarnished his reputation as one of England's most gifted defenders. Capello's vice-captain, 31 on Saturday, has not played for United since the Liverpool game on 25 October. His mistake in the World Cup qualifier in Ukraine, which led to a penalty being awarded against England, prompted more questions as to whether his best days are behind him, although the competition for his place alongside John Terry in the centre of England's defence is extremely weak. Matthew Upson is the next best bet and he plays for lowly-placed West Ham.

Darren Fletcher has revealed he needs an ankle operation, although he is prepared to delay surgery until the summer. Tuesday's 3-3 draw with CSKA Moscow was the 25-year-old's first match for exactly a month. He had injured his ankle in the draw at Old Trafford against Sunderland.

"A bit of bone has broken off the back of my ankle and stuck out about an inch," he said. "It got to the point when it was too sore to train and play so I had an injection to clear it up for a while but eventually it is going to need to be cleaned out. I will have to get something done but the injection will see me through a few months. The plan is to get me through to the summer and do something then."

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk