Rio Ferdinand was today ruled out of the World Cup.
The new England skipper suffered a knee ligament injury at the end of training this lunchtime on the Three Lions' first full day in South Africa.
He was immediately sent to a local hospital for a scan by manager Fabio Capello but the news has been bad enough to rule Ferdinand out of the entire tournament.
The FA confirmed the news this evening, with Ferdinand expected to be sidelined until the middle of next month.
"Further to a scan arranged by the England medical staff immediately after training on Friday afternoon, Rio has been ruled out for four to six weeks and will therefore unfortunately miss the World Cup," said a statement.
"Tottenham Hotspur's Michael Dawson has been contacted today and will fly to South Africa on Friday evening.
"Steven Gerrard will lead the England team as captain in the tournament."
Coach Fabio Capello was quick to stress the obvious disappointment at hearing the news.
"It is obviously bad news and everyone with the squad is very disappointed and sorry for Rio," he said.
"It was an accidental injury in training, but had nothing to do with the pitch."
Ferdinand suffered his knee injury during the final minutes of England's second training session at their Bafokeng Sports Centre base.
Capello described the incident as a "minor tackle", although his demeanour suggested the outcome was a worry.
Ferdinand had been talking optimistically only 48 hours ago about leading England to World Cup glory.
He insisted anything less than winning the competition would not be regarded as a success and that England were "not here to make up the numbers".
Ferdinand will now play no part, with Manchester United left to work on the 31-year-old's fitness in the hope of getting him back for the start of next season.
Capello has stressed his confidence in England being able to make a strong challenge if they have all their key players available and Ferdinand certainly fell into that category.
The Ferdinand-John Terry partnership had been earmarked to play a key part in England's bid for glory this summer, despite injuries restricting the number of times they have appeared together.
Ferdinand was laid low for considerable periods at Old Trafford this season with back and groin problems.
But he was happy with his fitness at the end of the campaign and during England's two-week training camp in Austria before coming through the friendly internationals with Mexico and Japan unscathed.
Capello's alternatives in the current squad are West Ham's Matthew Upson, Tottenham's Ledley King and Liverpool's Jamie Carragher
Upson has started nine of the last 17 internationals while King has forced his way into Capello's thinking despite his long-term knee problem.
King has impressed for Tottenham this season and did train this morning although by his own admission he looked far from convincing in the recent friendly with Mexico at Wembley, even if he would be the current favourite to partner Terry in the Group C opener against the United States in Rustenburg on June 12.
The other option is Carragher, although as Capello has pencilled him in as the back-up right-back to Anfield team-mate Glen Johnson, it seems unlikely the 32-year-old would be picked as first-choice in another position without an addition right-back being drafted in.
Dawson was named in Capello's initial party of 30 for the finals but was excluded from the final 23 after not playing against either Mexico at Wembley or Japan in Graz.
He has had an outstanding season at Tottenham, often alongside King, although he is yet to make his bow at international level and, while he was talking in relation to Adam Johnson, Capello has already spoken of the difficulty uncapped players have in stepping up to international level at such an important time.Reuse content