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World Cup diary - Milner worry for England

Published: 10 Jun 2010 - 06:31:53

England's James Milner missed group training for the second day running on Wednesday, as coach Fabio Capello oversaw an intense session ahead of his team's opener against the USA on Saturday.

The Aston Villa man was excluded from the main group on Tuesday as he was suffering with a raised temperature.

By Wednesday, a slight improvement in Milner's condition allowed him to undertake a workout in the gym, as the majority of the squad carried out their usual drills at the Bafokeng Sports Centre. Central defender Ledley King is also working in isolation, as his persistent knee injury requires a specifically-designed training regime.

SUBSTANCE OVER STYLE FOR NIC

Argentina's Nicolas Burdisso has told his team-mates that victory in their opening World Cup match is the only objective they need to consider. The Albiceleste campaign begins against Nigeria on Saturday, the first of their Group B games.

"There is a lot of anxiety and to start with a win would mean a lot to us," said the central defender.

Surprisingly for a team comprising the bountiful attacking talents of Argentina, the style of play is not even a consideration: "We must win our first game and although it will be difficult, we have to know that a good result is all that matters."

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INIESTA WORRY FOR SPAIN

Spain's Andres Iniesta is suffering from a minor thigh injury, according to the team doctor. Barcelona's midfield maestro was substituted late in the first half of Spain's 6-0 victory over Poland on Tuesday. "As he wasn't comfortable, we made the change - it's a minor muscle injury," said Dr Oscar Celada. The 26-year-old has not played a full 90 minutes for his country since February 2009.

CONFIDENT HOSTS

South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has set his tournament sights high, insisting that his team should be looking to win all three of their games against their Group A rivals.

Although qualification looked doubtful after the draw paired Carlos Alberto Parreira's side with Uruguay, France and Friday's opponents Mexico, confidence in the camp is sky-high after some impressive performances in friendly matches: "They should be worried about us as the hosts and we shouldn't be worried about them." That's the spirit, Itumeleng!

MORAS OUT OF GREECE OPENER

Greece's slim chances of causing a World Cup shock were dealt a blow before their opening match against South Korea, as Vangelis Moras was ruled out, after the Bologna sweeper injured his right ankle in training.

"I'm not ready," he said. "It would be too big a risk to take in such a crucial match." However, the 6ft 5" 28-year-old is aiming to feature in his country's second Group B fixture on June 17.

TERRY THE ROONEY BUTCHER

Ex-England warlord Terry Butcher - best known for iconic images in a blood-soaked head bandage and England shirt - has suggested that the USA players physically attack England's Wayne Rooney, in a bid to antagonise the fiery striker:

"If I was an American I'd wind Rooney up. I'd stand on his toes, pinch him, belt him if I could."

Nowadays, Terry seems more Frank Butcher than Frank Bruno. If he gave our Wayne anything resembling a "belt", he'd take one almighty wallop.


DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Tom Littlefield
Seen as the heir apparent to Jan Molby until an underactive thyroid gland curtailed this youngster’s development, Tom Littlefield will now concentrate on making a “big pitch” (pun) during South Africa 2010. As Barnet’s staunchest Gooner, he is well placed to judge good football. So, while the England team provides your compulsory tournament displeasure, Tom will look to rouse your enthusiasm for the beautiful game (and WAGS) in the oasis of oratory that is his World Cup Diary.

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