Roy Hodgson has been left fretting over Ashley Cole's potential availability for England's World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland after the Chelsea full-back left his team's victory at Carrow Road suffering from a rib injury.
Cole had been due to be substituted earlier by José Mourinho against Norwich City on Sunday but eventually retreated from the turf clutching the left side of his chest 15 minutes from time.
The left-back, who earned his 105th cap in the draw in Ukraine last month and remains first-choice for his country, was due to undergo a scan on Chelsea's return to their Cobham training base. The results of this will determine whether or not he is to link up with Hodgson's 23-man party at St George's Park on Monday evening. "He is having this little problem for quite a while," said Mourinho in the wake of the 3-1 victory in East Anglia.
"He was feeling it hard in the ribs but I didn't change him because of that. I changed him [to have] an option in the game, a tactical decision, but I realise the situation before was difficult for his condition. It is my concern because I want England to do well and my players to play for their national team. But we need to assess the injury. "Hopefully he will be fine but he'll go for a scan on his ribs when we arrive home, and I hope he is OK. I want England to do well, and I will be there at Wembley on Friday [against Montenegro] to push, as I would love England to go to the World Cup." A decision is expected, either way, on Monday morning before the squad get together in Staffordshire.
Should Cole be ruled out, then Everton's Leighton Baines, such a force in the Premier League already this term, would earn his 20th cap against Montenegro with Hodgson left to consider calling up another full-back to act as cover. The most obvious candidates would be Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs so impressive already this season, or, possibly, Chelsea's back-up, Ryan Bertrand, though he has found his opportunities severely limited at Stamford Bridge.
Hodgson received a boost when Wayne Rooney said he would be fit after a blow to the shin that left him limping late in Manchester United's game at Sunderland. "I've got a little knock but I'll be fine," he said. "As soon as the game had finished I started to think about England."