Harry Kane has become the latest England player to suffer an injury scare ahead of a World Cup.
With the start of Russia 2018 just three months away, Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate faces an anxious wait to discover the extent of the ankle problem Kane suffered during Tottenham’s 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Sunday.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at other important England players who have faced fitness battles in the build up to World Cups.
The Chelsea left-back’s hopes of being on the plane to South Africa were thrown into doubt when he fractured his left ankle in a challenge with Everton forward Landon Donovan in February 2010. He was ruled out for approximately three months but was back playing 10 weeks later. He featured four times for Chelsea before the end of the season, including the FA Cup final win over Portsmouth, before lining up against Donovan’s United States in England’s opening group game in Rustenburg.
After a cracked metatarsal cruelly cut short Rooney’s sensational performances at Euro 2004, he suffered a similar injury exactly six weeks before the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Rooney was playing for Manchester United against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge when a innocuous tackle from Paulo Ferreira left him in agony. The 20-year-old recovered to be named among the substitutes for England’s opener against Paraguay and then played in each of the next four games, including the quarter-final exit to Portugal in which he was sent off.
Rooney’s injury was even more of a concern given his international strike partner was suffering with a similar issue. Newcastle forward Owen cracked a metatarsal in a collision with Tottenham’s England goalkeeper Paul Robinson during a Premier League match in December 2005. He played only 29 more minutes for the Magpies that season but went to the World Cup after coming through the international warm-up games unscathed. However, his problems were far from over. After playing for around an hour in each of England’s opening two games, his miserable luck continued when he sustained an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury in the fourth minute of the final group match against Sweden in Cologne.
Beckham’s broken foot was possibly the biggest sports injury story this country has ever had. It introduced many to the metatarsal bones, one of which the England captain fractured in a challenge with Aldo Duscher during a Manchester United Champions League game against Deportivo La Coruna. Newspapers printed life-sized cut-outs of the midfielder’s foot and encouraged readers to pray for his recovery, while the player slept in oxygen tents and wore a state-of-the-art surgical boot. Less than two months after the injury, he started England’s World Cup opener against Sweden and played all five games under Sven-Goran Eriksson, including their quarter-final defeat to Brazil.
While Beckham was the big worry in 2002 before eventually recovering, England regulars Gerrard and Neville both missed out. Gerrard memorably scored England’s second goal in the 5-1 win against Germany in Munich during the qualifying campaign, but a groin issue prevented him from travelling to Japan and South Korea. He made 45 appearances for Liverpool during the 2001/02 season before a visit to a specialist revealed he required surgery. Defender Neville, meanwhile, fractured a metatarsal two weeks after Manchester United team-mate Beckham, paving the way for Danny Mills to take his right-back spot.
Robson won 90 caps for England and it would have been more but for terrible luck with injuries. His World Cup disappointment started just before Mexico ’86 when he dislocated a shoulder in a warm-up game. He travelled to the finals but aggravated the problem in the second game, a goalless draw with Morocco. He continued to captain the side four years later at Italia ’90. However, Achilles tendon and toe injuries flared up during England’s second group game and he remained sidelined as Bobby Robson’s men suffered penalty shoot-out heartache at the hands of West Germany in the semi-finals.
England’s failure to qualify for the two previous World Cups meant Keegan had to wait until the 1982 tournament in Spain for a chance to play on football’s biggest stage. The opportunity was ruined by a chronic back problem. He was named in the squad and retained the captain’s armband but was restricted to just 26 minutes on the pitch. Having been absent for his country’s first four matches, Keegan, aged 31, came on as a second-half substitute against the hosts, a game England needed to win by two goals to progress. They drew 0-0 and Keegan’s World Cup experience was over almost before it had begun.
Greaves enjoyed a prolific international career but will have bittersweet memories of England’s only World Cup win. The Spurs player started the tournament as the country’s first-choice striker, only to injure a shin in the final group game. He was replaced by Sir Geoff Hurst for the knockout stages and, despite being fit for the final, manager Sir Alf Ramsey stuck with a winning team. Hurst wrote his name into the history books with a hat-trick in the 4-2 final win over West Germany, while Greaves did not receive his winner’s medal until 2009.