Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hargreaves injury make England Weak......

Owen Hargreaves is a new midfield injury worry for England coach Steve McClaren ahead of Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel at Wembley.

The Manchester United star is a doubt for Saturday's crucial qualifier after picking up a thigh injury.

The news comes after Steven Gerrard gave the injury-hit squad a boost by taking part in training on Wednesday, despite his broken toe.

England are already without sidelined duo Frank Lampard and David Beckham.

Chelsea midfielder Lampard is ruled out with a thigh injury, while Beckham's knee problem has ended any hope of the LA Galaxy star playing any part.

The absence of Hargreaves, who missed the recent friendly against Germany because of a knee injury, would mean McClaren having to seriously reassess his midfield options.

Radio 5Live's football correspondent Jonathan Legard said: "It's a case of one step forward and two steps back for England.

"Gerrard's participation in training is a major plus given the concerns over his fitness but Hargreaves's condition is a scare.

"He sat out training on Tuesday because of the knee injury which has restricted him for Manchester United.

"He was talking hopefully of lasting two games in a week - something he hasn't done this season.

"Now it appears there is another injury which is so often the case when recovering from problems."

Hargreaves, who has previously been troubled by tendonitis in the knee, has yet to play two games in a week following his £18m summer switch to United from Bayern Munich.

England, who are three points behind leaders Croatia in Group E, have not ruled out giving Gerrard an injection to enable him to play against Israel, though Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is against giving him a jab.

"Steven Gerrard played a part in training," said an FA statement on Wednesday.

We will just scrape qualification and get to the quarter-finals if we are lucky. No improvement

"He will be continually assessed by the England medical staff and a decision on his fitness for Saturday's game will be taken later in the week."

McClaren added: "We're leaving it as late as possible but we want Steven on the field and we want him ready to play.

"We will liaise with Liverpool and we will do nothing to put the player at risk, but we will also go a lot on how Steven feels and what he wants."

Despite being a doubt for Saturday's game, Hargreaves has been in confident mood about over England's qualification chances.

"It doesn't matter where we are in the table just now," said the 26-year-old Hargreaves.

"Croatia, Russia and Israel have done well so far but we are only halfway through the group, so we will see who is there at the end."

"I don't see any more anxiety around the camp for this game," added the Manchester United midfielder.

"We know what we have to do. Israel will pull everybody behind the ball. They hardly tried to get forward when they were at home, so I don't imagine it will be any different on Saturday.

"I am sure they will be happy with a draw but if we can take our chances early on, and score a goal or two, it could be a comfortable game for us."

Israel squad for Euro 2008 qualifier against England on 8 September at Wembley:

Aouate, Davidovitch, Strauber, Ben Haim, Benado, Gershon, Ziv, Sprungin, Saban, Strul, Antebi, Benayoun, Badier, Alberman, Tal, Zandberg, Tamuz, Itzhaki, Golan, Balili, Collauti, Barda, Katan.

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