Lampard ruled out... and now England have doubts over Parker fitness

Chelsea man out of Euro 2012 while Spurs midfielder faces fitness fight despite being set to start against France

England are still harbouring doubts about Scott Parker's fitness for the European Championship and face entering the tournament with only one fully-fit first-choice central midfielder, after Frank Lampard's withdrawal from the squad last night.

Parker will start for Roy Hodgson against Belgium in England's last pre-tournament friendly at Wembley tomorrow and, barring any problems, will be in the XI against France as the side begin their Euro campaign in 10 days' time. But there is a feeling among coaching staff who watched the 31-year-old play against Norway on Saturday that he is some way short of his best and that his mobility is not near the level he displayed for Spurs in November, when he hit a particularly rich vein of form.

Parker has had a race against time to be fit for this tournament, having decided to take a holiday in Dubai straight after the Premier League season finished rather than stay at Spurs for work on an Achilles injury. He missed the last four games of the domestic season and played only 56 minutes in Oslo, with Hodgson's staff testing how much he could manage as he sought to shrug off the injury.

The coaching staff are unanimous in their view that he is not yet right, despite having responded well to an injection and trained fully last week. They believe he faces a battle to be restored to the level he attained last autumn.

Parker's struggle is a further blow to Hodgson, who yesterday heard the news he had deemed inevitable ever since he saw the look on Lampard's face when the Chelsea player pulled up with a thigh injury in training on Wednesday. England, who have called up Liverpool's Jordan Henderson from the standby list, knew that the two- to three-week recovery time for a thigh strain meant that the injury had come too late for Lampard to have a role in Euro 2012.

The Football Association will today approach Uefa for permission to draft Henderson into the squad for Poland and Ukraine. Though the European governing body will want to see Lampard's scans and to be assured that this is a new injury, the FA request is not expected to meet any obstacles.

With Gareth Barry's stomach injury also ruling him out, captain Steven Gerrard is the fittest midfielder at Hodgson's disposal, though even he has been careful to avoid putting undue strain on a back injury that saw him miss the last two games of Liverpool's season.

There has been a clamour for Hodgson to turn to Manchester United's Michael Carrick, and it is understood that the player is now willing to renew his international career and make himself available again, following the exit of Fabio Capello. But the 30-year-old is also aware that Hodgson has standby players ready, so only covets a return to the ranks after the European Championship.

For his part, though, Hodgson has felt that Carrick would need to be assured of a starting berth if asked to make a symbolic return to the national ranks. But that would mean telling Parker and Gerrard that there is only one central midfield position left – which is unviable. It is understood Carrick may be struggling with an Achilles problem of his own, in any case.

Hodgson may instead have to turn to the players who are cover for central midfield: Phil Jones, who has started one game in the centre for England and just seven for Manchester United, James Milner and Henderson. The manager remains phlegmatic about the litany of injuries which threaten to make the tournament very hard for England. He feels that making too much of the sick-list can only have a negative impact.

That said, he rued the loss of Lampard. "It's a huge blow for the team, especially coming after the loss of another senior player in Gareth Barry," the manager said last night. "The fact that the doctor cannot guarantee Frank could take part in any of the group matches means we have to replace him in the central midfield area.

"Apart from it being a huge blow to me and the team, I'm especially disappointed for Frank himself. He has been in very good form and was looking forward to it. He made a huge contribution towards us qualifying for the Euros so it is cruel to be forced out just before the tournament."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones