Fabio Capello's decision to persist with Steven Gerrard against France could cost the Football Association up to £500,000 in compensation after the Liverpool captain was ruled out for three to four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Yesterday afternoon Gerrard was assessed by his club's medical team at the Melwood training ground, where a scan revealed a grade-two tear to his hamstring. His absence is a huge loss to Roy Hodgson, who will be without the influential midfielder against West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Steaua Bucharest, Aston Villa and possibly Newcastle United.
Dr Peter Brukner, Liverpool's head of sports medicine and sports science, said: "It certainly looks like a significant hamstring injury. He's going to be out for a little while, I'm afraid. I'd imagine it could be three to four weeks."
The FA is one of the few football federations to take out high-level insurance for its international players and, as Gerrard was clearly injured on international duty, its insurers will have to reimburse Liverpool for his £120,000-a-week wages for the amount of time he is sidelined. Newcastle United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, among others, have been reimbursed for injuries sustained by Michael Owen, Theo Walcott and Jermain Defoe on England duty. The compensation does not come out of FA funds.
Liverpool have also reminded all staff of their responsibility on social networking sites following the outburst on Twitter by Darren Burgess, the club's head of fitness and conditioning, over Capello's deployment of Gerrard in England's 2-1 friendly defeat. Damien Comolli, Liverpool's new director of football strategy, spoke to England's general manager, Franco Baldini, before the game to request the midfielder play no more than an hour at Wembley. That was verbally agreed, but with Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry injured during the game, and France dominating at 2-0, Capello felt it better to leave the experienced Gerrard on for the benefit of a young, experimental England team. Gerrard was asked at half-time whether he would be happy to carry on and said that this was all right.
Burgess described "all associated with England and English FA" as "completely amateurish" and incompetent on Twitter before deleting his comments later that night. He has since told Gary Lewin, the FA's and England's physio, that he regrets how his sentiments were expressed, although there was no apologyfrom the Australian or from Liverpool over the accusations made.
There is still anger at Liverpool over the loss of their captain but Brukner, Burgess's superior, adopted a far more diplomatic tone in the club's only public comment on the controversy. "If you put your hand up to play for your country, you've got to accept how long they want you to play for," he stated.
"There were obviously circumstances last night which came together to result in Steven playing for a bit longer than we'd hoped, which is disappointing, but there's nothing we can do about that now. We'll move on and work as hard as we can to get him back playing for Liverpool as soon as possible."
Brukner also allayed concerns over Fernando Torres playing 45 minutes of Spain's 4-0 defeat by Portugal only four days after damaging an ankle against Stoke City. Brukner, who expects Dirk Kuyt and Martin Skrtel to be available for tomorrow's home game with West Ham after missing internationals for Holland and Slovakia respectively, said: "Fernando rolled his ankle against Stoke. We had a look at him and we didn't think it was too bad, so we were happy for him to report to Spain's training camp.
"We have a good relationship with the Spanish medical staff. They assessed him and he had a good day or two of treatment over there and didn't train. They felt he was okay to play 45 minutes and he came through that OK. We fully expect him to be fine for the weekend."