The England manager Roy Hodgson must now plan for the World Cup in Brazil without Theo Walcott; the winger set to miss the remainder of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury during Arsenal's FA Cup win over Tottenham on Saturday. Although Walcott was hardly a guaranteed selection for England’s starting eleven, he would undoubtedly have been on the plane to Rio as part of the squad after a string of impressive performances for the Gunners this season.
Injuries to key members of the England squad prior to major tournaments are a depressingly familiar occurrence and, along with refereeing mistakes and controversial red cards, a usual reason given for the three lions failure to achieve success on the international stage. Below we take a look at three of the most famous England injuries prior to tournaments.
David Beckham – 2002 – Broken Metatarsal
Before the Manchester United winger suffering a broken metatarsal, via a tackle from Deportivo La Coruna’s Aldo Duscher, few had heard of the bone in the foot. What followed was media frenzy, focussing primarily on the unusual rehabilitation techniques applied by the England camp in an attempt to speed up Beckham’s recovery. He eventually played in all five of England’s games in the Far East and played well despite England’s early exit. Perhaps more importantly to Beckham was the potential loss of £10m in sponsorship deals had he been absent from the World Cup.
Wayne Rooney – 2006 – Broken Metatarsal
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The curse of the broken metatarsal hit the England camp once again four years later as Wayne Rooney, England’s most promising player at the time, broke the bone in his right foot a week before the end of the domestic season. Although he managed to return in time to make a substitute appearance in England’s second match against Trinidad and Tobago, he failed to score at the tournament; performing poorly in the process.
Ian Wright – 1998 – Hamstring
Although he was one of the most prolific English strikers in the Premier League era, Ian Wright never played at a World Cup for the three lions. Despite helping his Arsenal side to their first Premier League title in 1998 his season was hampered by a recurring hamstring injury. Possibly his greatest England performance came in a 0-0 draw away to Italy, which secured England’s place at the World Cup finals in France. However Wright would miss out on the chance to play, the hamstring injury ruling him out competing at the tournament.