England Will Recover From Rio Blow Steven Gerrard

By NBF News

William's video call to the England team
New England captain Steven Gerrard says the team will recover from Rio Ferdinand's injury to be fully prepared for their first World Cup group match.

England take on the United States next Saturday without first-choice skipper Ferdinand after he injured his knee.

But Liverpool skipper Gerrard said he is relishing filling the leader's role.

“We're very disappointed about Rio but by the time that first game comes around I'm sure the team will be fit and ready to win,” he said.

“Obviously for me it's fantastic to be able lead the country in the World Cup,” he told Football Association president Prince William via a video link from England's hotel in Rustenburg.

“But obviously I'd rather that Rio was here fit and available so it's mixed emotions at the minute.”

Coach Fabio Capello's plans were thrown into turmoil on Friday when Manchester United defender Ferdinand, who has endured a stop-start season with other injuries, sustained the knock in the closing minutes of England's first training session.

Ferdinand is a big loss – Lampard
The 31-year-old was quickly replaced in the squad by Tottenham's Michael Dawson who arrived on Saturday, while Capello will likely pick Ledley King, Jamie Carragher or Matthew Upson to deputise in central defence for England.

King has a chronic knee injury which needs careful management, but the Spurs star returned to training on Sunday after missing Saturday's session to work on his fitness in the swimming pool and gym.

Upson also resumed light training in the gym after sitting out the Saturday session with a high temperature.

The knock-on effect of Ferdinand's injury meant that Capello picked Frank Lampard as the new vice-captain and the Chelsea midfielder said that Ferdinand's leadership would be missed in the England camp as well as on the field.

But he also backed Gerrard to inspire England, albeit in a different manner.

“I think he'll do the job that he does at Liverpool which has been fantastic for years,” Lampard said. “It will mean everything to him.

“The captaincy is a huge thing for anyone that holds it, especially in a big tournament like this. Steven has got that very kind of quiet way about him off the pitch but everybody respects him for that.

“But when he plays he plays with a lot of inspiration and he's a player to look up to. For me that's what a captain is all about.

“It's not too much about things off the pitch. It's when they get on the pitch, it's they way they lead and they way they play – and Steven always does that very well.”

Despite the Ferdinand blow Lampard said Dawson's arrival had provided a morale boost to the squad.

And former England skipper John Terry also said that preparations were continuing as normal after Saturday's training – the first high-tempo session since they arrived on Thursday.

“The altitude training is going well,” the Chelsea captain told the Prince, who also addressed Capello and star striker Wayne Rooney.

“We felt it a little bit in Austria before. Training has been fairly relaxed and easy but today the tempo was up and a few of the lads felt it a little bit in their throats but I'm sure after a few days we will get used to it and acclimatised to that.”

England play a warm-up game against local side Platinum Stars at the Moruleng Stadium near Sun City on Monday.

And despite losing Ferdinand, Capello has pledged to play all of his first XI for the opener against the States in that friendly.

“I have to play all the players that will play against the USA for 45 minutes or 60 minutes,” said Capello. “I don't know if it is a major risk. I touch wood.

“We have to be careful about injuries but we have to prepare for that game.”

Meanwhile, England and the US have learnt that Brazilian Carlos Simon will referee their Group C clash at the the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.