England's Euro2008 hopes hit by injury crisis

August 6, 2007

LONDON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - England's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008 have been hit by a spate of injuries to their central defenders, including captain John Terry.

Terry missed Chelsea's Community Shield meeting with Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday after damaging medial knee ligaments in training. The match ended 1-1, United winning the shield on penalties.

He is expected to be out for at least a month, meaning he will miss England's friendly against Germany on August 22 and making him doubtful for the qualifiers against Israel and Russia on September 8 and 12.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho confirmed Terry's injury but did not say how long he would be missing.

The influential centre-back, along with Tottenham's Ledley King and Middlesbrough's Jonathan Woodgate, is not likely to be fully-fit again until the end of September.

King has a knee problem and is not due back before October. The Tottenham captain underwent surgery after aggravating a cartilage tear while on England duty in June.

His club manager Martin Jol told the London Evening Standard last week that King would 'probably still be out for another two months'.

Woodgate is also in rehabilitation following a cartilage operation and is not expected to be fit to return for England duty before the qualifiers.

Commenting on Woodgate's fitness, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was quoted as telling the Evening Gazzette on Monday: 'Jonathan Woodgate, we are hoping, will be back in the next three to four weeks.'

This pile-up of injuries has left coach Steve McClaren with only one recognised senior international defender -- Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand.

McClaren is expected to approach Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and ask him to reconsider his retirement from international football, announced last month.

Carragher, 29, said he was disillusioned with being asked to play out of position as a fullback for England - but McClaren now needs him to play as a partner for Ferdinand in central defence for the next three games.

England are fourth in Group E, three points behind Croatia and Israel and one behind Russia.