Gerrard ready to 'lead the country'

England's new World Cup captain Steven Gerrard insists he is "ready to lead the country" this summer.

Vice-captain Gerrard takes over the armband after Rio Ferdinand was ruled out of the tournament with a knee ligament injury suffered in training this lunchtime.

England's worst fears have been confirmed after Ferdinand went straight to hospital after suffering the setback in the final few minutes of the session.

Gerrard led his country for the eighth time in the friendly international with Egypt at Wembley in March and has no qualms about stepping into the breach again on this occasion.

The Liverpool captain was asked prior to Ferdinand's injury about the possibility of taking over as skipper and made it clear he would be up for the challenge.

Asked during England's recent pre-tournament training camp in Austria if he would relish the responsibility, he said: "I don't know whether relish is the right word.

"First and foremost let's hope that Rio is available for us because he's such an important player.

"Every player in the squad wants Rio to be fit and available and leading us at the World Cup.

"But I will be ready to lead the country if called upon."

Gerrard was named as skipper for the first match of the Capello era for the home friendly international against Switzerland in February 2008.

It was at a time when Capello was experimenting with his choice of captains before eventually deciding to re-appoint John Terry, who had been the choice of his predecessor Steve McClaren.

Gerrard became official vice-captain when Terry was sacked from the role earlier this year and Ferdinand replaced him despite an injury-hit season.

The 30-year-old has made it clear he wants to put behind him a season of under-achievement at Anfield by helping England to World Cup glory.

He said: "There is still a lot of ambition in myself to go and achieve big things.

"The biggest thing you can do as a player is to win the World Cup so that's the challenge. The hunger is still there.

"The World Cup is the pinnacle for any player. It's a fantastic stage to go and do well on. That's the challenge for me."

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