Fabio Capello looks set to plan for England's friendly with Egypt next week having to install yet another captain after Rio Ferdinand's latest injury scare.
Just three games into his comeback from a long-standing back complaint that kept him out for over three months, Ferdinand was forced to pull out of Manchester United's Premier League victory over West Ham at Old Trafford last night after feeling a twinge in his back.
Sir Alex Ferguson immediately ruled Ferdinand out of Sunday's Carling Cup final, which raises inevitable questions about the 31-year-old's chances of leading his country into their first game since John Terry was sacked.
Capello would almost certainly ask Steven Gerrard to do the job if Ferdinand does miss out, although in-form Wayne Rooney might also have a claim given he had the role for the defeat by Brazil in Qatar last November.
"He tweaked his back in training and he won't be ready for Sunday," said Ferguson.
"It is unfortunate for him that he's going to miss a couple of games.
"Rio has been training great too.
"There have been no mishaps at all. But when you get these twinges you can't take a chance."
If Capello went with Rooney, he certainly couldn't pick anyone in more confident mood at present.
Two headers for the 24-year-old last night took his tally to 27 this season, which is only 15 fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo managed in his stellar 2007-08 campaign.
"Everything he touches is turning to gold at the moment," said the Hammers chief.
"He is the kind of form that means every single opportunity can become a goal.
"I thought he had a normal game. But he scored two goals and he might have had another one, which tells its own story.
"Having a player like him helps any situation. One man cannot do it all on his own. But he can make a big difference."
Michael Owen added a third, his first goal since scoring a hat-trick against Wolfsburg in December, to seal a win that took United to within a point of leaders Chelsea and put them in good heart ahead of their Wembley encounter with Aston Villa on Sunday.
"We had to win," conceded Ferguson, who is now set to recall Darren Fletcher and Rafael amongst others.
"There will be changes on Sunday now.
"I have done that all along in the competition and I will have to look at the situation to make sure we have a fresh team."Reuse content