Daniel Sturridge has been ruled out of England’s opening European Championship qualifier against Switzerland because of a thigh injury, further depleting coach Roy Hodgson’s options for his team’s toughest test in Group E.
The Liverpool striker pulled up hurt during a training session on Friday and was withdrawn from the squad for Monday’s match in Basel after having a scan.
“He will play no part in the forthcoming Switzerland match,” the English Football Association said in a statement.
It remains to be seen how long the forward will be sidelined.
Hodgson hasn’t immediately called up a replacement, leaving him with three strikers – captain Wayne Rooney, Rickie Lambert and Danny Welbeck.
England’s squad had already been weakened by the recent international retirement of Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, while Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Jay Rodriguez, Andy Carroll, Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson, Luke Shaw, Jon Flanagan, Chris Smalling and Kieran Gibbs are also unavailable.
West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster and uncapped Newcastle midfielder Jack Colback have withdrawn from the 22-man squad in recent days, so Hodgson now has only 19 players, two of whom are goalkeepers, to utilise in Switzerland.
Gary Cahill also sat out training yesterday with an ankle complaint, but the defender is expected to return in time for Monday’s match, which will be their first competitive outing since bowing out at the group stages of the World Cup without a single victory.
England could only muster a lacklustre 1-0 friendly win over Norway in midweek, courtesy of a Rooney spot-kick, but Cahill felt there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
“We won, first and foremost,” the Chelsea defender said. “First half I thought we dominated possession, we dominated the game. Second half they made it difficult. Of course we can do better.”
Cahill also felt the negative reaction to their performance was magnified by England’s failure in Brazil and wants the squad to get back to their best on Monday.
“We know it is going to be very, very tough. It’s a chance for us to bounce back in a game which really matters,” he added. “It’s certainly one of the hardest games for us in the group. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere also said that he felt some of the criticism aimed towards England since the World Cup has been over the top, but acknowledged a big performance is needed in Switzerland to engage the fans again after a less-than-half-filled Wembley crowd watched the friendly with Norway.
“It’s a massive game,” he said. “First and foremost we want to win the game. We know if we put in the performance and we get the result the fans are going to come back onside.”
Welbeck is the obvious contender to replace Sturridge following his transfer deadline-day move from Manchester Unietd to Arsenal and Wilshere has backed his new clubmate to have a successful season for club and country.
“He is a great addition for Arsenal and hopefully he will keep performing for England as well,’’ said the midfielder. “He has got great enthusiasm, he wants to run, he will track back, and he has got great quality.
“A lot of people don’t give him credit for his technical ability, but he is great on the ball. I am sure there were a few clubs wanting him and there are not many players his age who move from one big club to another big club so that shows his quality.’’
Wilshere, who anchored England’s midfield alongside Jordan Henderson against Norway, also praised Rooney’s leadership skills after he took over the armband from Gerrard.
“Even before he was captain, for me, he was always someone that was a leader, a big personality,” he said. “He’s not scared to tell you what you’re doing wrong and he helps you with what you’re doing right. He’s the perfect choice for me.”