Rio joins Becks as England 'cheerleader'
England will have the support of injured skipper Rio Ferdinand for their opening World Cup match against the United States. The central defender was forced to withdraw from the England squad on Friday with a knee ligament injury suffered in training only 24 hours after arriving in South Africa. Ferdinand's worst fears were quickly confirmed but the Manchester United star will be on hand to back his team-mates in Rustenburg on Saturday. There is no timetable for when Ferdinand will return to England or if he intends to remain with Fabio Capello's squad for an extended period. But he will join former skipper David Beckham in being fully behind England's attempts to get their bid for glory during the next month off to a winning start. Beckham is assisting Capello during the tournament although he is not engaged in any official coaching capacity. Beckham has been seen on the training pitches at England's Bafokeng headquarters and also watched the USA defeat Australia 3-1 in Saturday's friendly international in Johannesburg. England have a virtual clean bill of health heading into Monday afternoon's practice match with the Platinum Stars. West Ham central defender Matthew Upson was the only absentee from training on Sunday for the second successive day because of a high temperature. But he had improved sufficiently to undertake some gym work and is expected to join in fully with the next training session with his team-mates. Capello will be keen to bed in Ferdinand's replacement alongside John Terry against the Stars, with Ledley King, Upson, the recalled Michael Dawson or Jamie Carragher all options. The game could be too soon for Gareth Barry to return to action after his ankle ligament damage and he has been eased gently back into training by Capello during the past few days. With several other high-profile players already laid low by injury during the World Cup build-up, Capello will be keeping his fingers crossed England suffer no more setbacks.
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