Gerrard misses England game with groin injury

Lampard in line to start as captain in Denmark while Crouch, Agbonlahor and Foster also drop out
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The Independent Online

Steven Gerrard was last night ruled out of England's friendly against Denmark on Wednesday with a groin problem that leaves Fabio Capello without either of his two first-choice captains.

Capello's plans were further disrupted last night when Peter Crouch, Ben Foster and Gabriel Agbonlahor all withdrew from the squad, forcing the Italian to make two late call-ups in Rob Green and Carlton Cole. The February/March friendly has always been difficult for England managers and this year Capello has lost five players before the first training session.

Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, said that Gerrard would report to England's Hertfordshire headquarters today but added that the midfielder would "not be playing" in Copenhagen.

Gerrard was at the centre of controversy after England's friendly against France in November when club officials accused Capello of reneging on an agreement to play him only for the first hour. Circumstances dictated that Gerrard played 85 minutes which in turn caused an injury that ruled him out of the Liverpool team.

Capello's first-choice captain Rio Ferdinand was not selected for the squad having withdrawn from Manchester United's defeat to Wolves on Saturday when he aggravated an old injury in the warm-up.

It means that Frank Lampard is likely to start for England for the first time since the friendly against Hungary in August – and he is the most obvious candidate to take the captaincy as well.

The awkward factor is that should Lampard be substituted during the game whether the armband is passed to John Terry. The former captain, sacked by Capello a year ago, has complained recently that he has been overlooked.

Ferdinand's absence also leaves Capello having to find a new central defensive partner alongside Terry. Tottenham's Michael Dawson looks the most likely given that his preference to play on the right-side complements Terry.

Crouch withdrew last night after picking up a back problem this month. Foster played in Birmingham's 1-0 win over West Ham yesterday but was also passed unfit at England's base. Agbonlahor asked to be excused due to personal reasons.

Jack Wilshere looks likely to escape a Football Association charge when the governing body's disciplinary department meets today to discuss his rogue tweet about referee Phil Dowd's performance in Arsenal's 4-4 draw with Newcastle United on Saturday.

The midfielder joined up with the squad last night and is expected to start. The early signs are that his criticism of Dowd, who gave two penalties against Arsenal, for failing to send off Kevin Nolan for his clash with Wojciech Szczesny does not contravene FA guidelines. Wilshere tweeted: "inconsistent refereeing needs to stop. Its [sic] killing the game. If Diaby goes... what's the difference between that and Nolan on our keeper! Joke." However, he did not call into question the referee's integrity which is the key transgression that triggers FA charges.

England squad

* To play Denmark in a friendly in Copenhagen on Wednesday.



* Joe Hart (Manchester City), David Stockdale (Fulham), Robert Green (West Ham United); Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Bolton Wanderers), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), John Terry (Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Aston Villa); Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Scott Parker (West Ham United), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Aston Villa); Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Carlton Cole (West Ham United).

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