England have been hit by a series of withdrawals from the squad for Wednesday's friendly with Denmark in Copenhagen.Steven Gerrard aggravated a groin strain while Liverpool were winning at Chelsea. Peter Crouch and Ben Foster have also left Fabio Capello's squad with injuries and are going back, respectively, to Tottenham Hotspur and Birmingham City.
Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor has been excused for personal reasons. Replacements are being arranged. It is anticipated that Carlton Cole of West Ham will take Crouch's place, with Robert Green filling the goalkeeper vacancy created by Foster. Green was dropped after a bad error allowed the USA an equaliser at the World Cup.
The West Ham goalkeeper has not been capped since. When the original party for the Denmark friendly was drawn up, Green seemed to have lost out to the uncapped David Stockdale, of Fulham, but he had been told that this was simply because the friendly was intended for experimentation.
Capello must be rueful about Gerrard. The midfielder might have captained the side in Copenhagen since Rio Ferdinand, who ought to be wearing the armband, collected a calf strain in the warm-up at Molineux before Manchester United's defeat by Wolves on Saturday. It could be Chelsea's Frank Lampard who leads out the national team on Wednesday.
Gerrard's case is eye-catching. In the last England friendly, against France in November, Capello did not stand by an agreement that relatively light use would be made of the player. Gerrard was on the field for 85 minutes and picked up a hamstring injury that infuriated Liverpool, who lost his services for six weeks.
All the same, yesterday's withdrawal did not have an air of reprisal. The match at Stamford Bridge was gruelling if dull and could well have taken its toll of Gerrard. If Capello has been deprived of a key figure, he can still count himself comparatively fortunate that a reasonably strong team will still be available. A debut for Kyle Walker, a full-back on loan to Aston Villa from Tottenham Hotspur, also looks likely at some point in the friendly.