Newcastle defender Steven Taylor called up to England squad after Gary Cahill is ruled out

Chelsea defender hurt his knee at the weekend and will not feature against San Marino

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has been ruled out of England's World Cup qualifier with San Marino on Friday.

Cahill hurt his knee in Sunday's game against West Ham and will not play in Rimini but will be reassessed ahead of Tuesday's game against Montenegro.

Newcastle centre-half Steven Taylor has been called up following some impressive recent performances in the Barclays Premier League.

Cahill's absence adds to coach Roy Hodgson's defensive woes.

Spurs' Michael Dawson pulled out on Sunday, to be replaced by Joleon Lescott, while Rio Ferdinand also pulled out of the squad yesterday as he continues to follow an intricate fitness programme.

Steven Caulker was Ferdinand's replacement with both the Manchester United man and Dawson ruled out of both matches over the next week.

Whilst Hodgson's defensive formation for Friday's encounter with San Marino may not be a concern, next week's clash with Montenegro in Podgorica certainly will be.

Unless Cahill's knee injury eases sufficiently for him to be made available, England face the uncomfortable scenario of selecting between players who have next to no international experience - Taylor and Caulker have one cap between them - and Joleon Lescott, who is out of favour at Manchester City.

It puts into stark perspective Ferdinand's decision to snub an international recall on fitness grounds and underlines why Hodgson was so keen to have him back in the fold.

England currently trail Montenegro by two points in Group H, although have a succession of home games next season meaning a draw next week would not be a disaster.

Defeat most certainly would be though and whilst it is a rather unpalatable thought, there could be a chance Hodgson will consider using Michael Carrick in defence given he has occupied the role for Manchester United in past emergencies.

Taylor will aim to show Hodgson he does not need to take such action though.

"It's a dream come true," he told http://www.nufc.co.uk.

"I am so happy to have received a call-up to the full squad. It is every player's ambition to represent their country and it is the greatest honour in professional football.

"If I am lucky enough to be given that chance over the next seven days it will be one of the proudest moments of my playing career."

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew added: "This is a fully deserved call-up for Steven.

"He missed part of the season but since his return he has been outstanding.

"He has a great chance, on this form, of going to the World Cup."

PA

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