Captain Rio Ferdinand has been ruled out of the World Cup 2010 following a knee injury sustained in the England squad's first training session in South Africa. The FA confirmed on Friday that Liverpool's Steven Gerrard will take over the captaincy in his absence, with Michael Dawson being called up as cover.
Bookmakers reacted to news of Ferdinand's withdrawal from the squad by easing England's betting odds. Paddy Power and Victor Chandler offer best odds of 15/2 for England to become World Cup champions after the loss of one Fabio Capello's most influential players.
Manager Capello must now decide who to replace Ferdinand with, having added Dawson to a list of central defenders that also includes Ledley King, Matthew Upson and Jamie Carragher. Commenting on the news he said: "It is obviously bad news and everyone with the squad is very disappointed and sorry for Rio, "It was an accidental injury in training, but had nothing to do with the pitch."
Newly appointed captain, Gerrard, led his country for the eighth time in the friendly international with Egypt at Wembley in March and has no qualms about stepping into the breach again on this occasion.
The Liverpool captain was asked prior to Ferdinand's injury about the possibility of taking over as skipper and made it clear he would be up for the challenge. Asked during England's recent pre-tournament training camp in Austria if he would relish the responsibility, he said: "I don't know whether relish is the right word. "Every player in the squad wants Rio to be fit and available and leading us at the World Cup. "But I will be ready to lead the country if called upon."
The 30-year-old has made it clear he wants to put behind him a season of under-achievement at Anfield by helping England to World Cup glory, saying: "There is still a lot of ambition in myself to go and achieve big things. "The biggest thing you can do as a player is to win the World Cup so that's the challenge. The hunger is still there."The World Cup is the pinnacle for any player. It's a fantastic stage to go and do well on. That's the challenge for me."