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Injury Woes Pile Up for England

Wayne Rooney's fractured foot, David Beckham's questionable left ankle, Michael Owen's perennial injury problems, and some seven other England internationals are awaiting the green light to return to full fitness for Coach Steve McClaren. And the timing couldn't be worse, as his Lions are three weeks away from two must-win Euro 2008 qualifiers.
 
England next week faces a friendly against Germany which was supposed to be a tune-up for the Euro qualifiers against Israel and Russia. Who's going to be on his team sheet for that one? "Whatever happens, McClaren will be unable to plan long-term," says the Independent, leaving the Lions with "scant chance for preparation as he prepares the team that will decide his destiny in September."
 
McClaren's position is so unenviable, in fact, that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson suggested that Rooney's injury, which will keep him out of action until mid-October at the earliest, is worse news for England than his side. "It's a bad blow for England -- no question," he said. "I was disappointed for us and also for Steve. I spoke to him that night [Sunday] and I could tell he was disappointed." Who will lead the frontline against Israel on Sept. 8? Will Owen be fit in time? Peter Crouch is suspended, so the two most likely backups are Jermain Defoe and Andy Johnson, who've never played together. There's also West Ham's Dean Ashton, who failed to impress over the weekend, and Newcastle's Alan Smith, who failed to impress against Brazil in June.

Read the whole story at Independent »

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