Jermain Defoe has withdrawn from the England squad for Wednesday's friendly against Brazil at Wembley after suffering suspected ankle ligament damage against West Bromwich Albion, an injury which leaves Tottenham Hotspur without a recognised striker.
Michael Carrick will also miss the game against the five-times World Cup winners after picking up an ankle injury against Fulham on Saturday. In addition, Daniel Sturridge is a doubt with a thigh problem. The Football Association had not called up any replacementsby Sunday night.
In front of Roy Hodgson, the England manager, Defoe went over on his left ankle in the 35th minute of Tottenham's 1-0 victory over Albion. Although Defoe had his ankle heavily strapped on the touchline with a view to coming back on, he was unable to continue and hobbled down the tunnel. André Villas-Boas, the Spurs head coach, believes Defoe could be out for up to three weeks but the full extent of the injury will not become clear until the player has undergone a scan.
With Emmanuel Adebayor absent on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Togo, Defoe's setback could not have come at a worse time for Spurs. The Tottenham fans at The Hawthorns chanted "You should have bought a striker", although Villas-Boas said he had no regrets about the club's failure to strengthen their limited attacking options in the transfer window, when an attempt to sign Leandro Damião, Internacional's Brazilian centre-forward, did not come off. Villas-Boas said he would be comfortable playing Gareth Bale, who scored the only goal against Albion in a game that was marred by a spitting incident that led to Goran Popov receiving a straight red card, through the middle as a striker. Bale started up front alongside Defoe before dropping into a deeper role in the second half, when Clint Dempsey was thrust further forward.
"I am extremely happy, apart from the big setback to Jermain Defoe," Villas-Boas said. "Defoe means a lot to us as a team, as a person and as a player. He has been withdrawn from the England squad. He has rolled his ankle. We have to scan to make sure what the extent of the injury is. Hopefully there is not a lot of ligament damage. If there is, it could be up to two or three weeks to recover.
"I have no regrets [about not signing a striker]. Obviously we took the risk because we felt we had options. We are not far from Adebayor being back. Still, we are safe with the options we have. We create a lot as a team. Our goals come from different sources and once again Bale has done the business. He is having a great season."
Outlining the options available to him, Villas-Boas made reference to the Spain side who played with a false No9 instead of an out-and-out centre-forward. "There was a team who were world champions that play without a striker. It is within their culture. It is a bit different here in England but you just have to adapt to it in the best way you can," he said.
"We started today with Bale through the middle and Dempsey on the left. When we played pre-season [Bale] played alone in America. It is something he feels comfortable with. It gives us even that possibility for sure. It is something we have to look to."