Injury rules Cole out of Moscow showdown

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The Independent Football

Ashley Cole is out of England's Euro 2008 qualifier against Russia on Wednesday and John Terry's participation in the match hangs in the balance. Cole will have an MRI scan on his left ankle today but it is feared that he will be out of action for two weeks at the very least.

The Chelsea left-back fell awkwardly less than five minutes after half-time and damaged his ankle – the same ankle that he had surgery on around three weeks ago. There were some faint hopes among the England staff on Saturday night that Cole might be able to recover in time to play but he was struggling to walk yesterday. Having had an ultrasound scan at Wembley after the match, the MRI scan today will tell Cole how seriously his ankle is damaged.

Last night Steve McClaren called up Middlesbrough's Luke Young to the squad. Although a right-back, the 28-year-old gives McClaren more flexibility in defence.

Terry was still not able to train yesterday. The England players were given yesterday off and met at their Manchester hotel at 10.30pm in preparation for today's training session on the artificial surface at the Blessed Thomas Holford school in Altrincham – which is identical to the pitch at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. Terry had hoped to do some work during the day but was still feeling pain in his left knee.

The problem with Terry's knee is a piece of loose debris which is floating around behind his knee cap. For much of the time it stays safely out of harm's way but when it settles in the meeting of the joint it causes an irritation and pain and swelling to occur. An operation to remove the particle would be relatively simple but England do not have the time – up to four days – that would be needed for Terry to recover from keyhole surgery.

Having sustained the injury on Wednesday, the England captain felt much better on Friday and plans for surgery were postponed. However, his recovery over the weekend has not progressed as quickly as hoped and his fitness is in doubt. He will fly with the squad to Moscow this evening unless the prognosis this morning is disastrous but the flight is not likely to do the swelling around his knee any good. Terry's injury will respond to a painkilling injection in the same way as his broken toe does.

A more serious problem for McClaren is replacing Cole at left-back with Nicky Shorey and Joleon Lescott the two options available to him.

England go to Moscow knowing that a win would see them qualify for Euro 2008 and a draw would mean they only require a point against Croatia next month to get through. Should they lose then the fate of Group E's second place is back in the hands of Russia who would qualify ahead of England if they won their remaining two games after Wednesday. England would then have to hope that results went against leaders Croatia.

The England goalkeeper Paul Robinson said that the side would have to expect a very different type of game on the artificial surface of the Luzhniki stadium. "It will be a learning experience for us all," he said.

"We have trained on it this week, done as much research as we can, and when we actually get there on Tuesday and I get to train on the actual pitch I will get a feel for it. Maybe you have to meet the ball before it bounces some of the time. The bounce will take a lot of pace off the ball."

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