Cleverley out of England squad

Tom Cleverley has been ruled out of England's friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

Last Updated: 26/05/13 at 21:32 Post Comment

Cleverley: Ruled out with an injury

Cleverley: Ruled out with an injury

Tom Cleverley has been ruled out of England's friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil because of a calf injury, the Football Association has confirmed.

Cleverley picked up the injury during Manchester United's final game of the season at West Brom and the FA confirmed that the midfielder has not joined up with the squad at St George's Park ahead of the double-header.

Roy Hodgson called up Manchester City man Jack Rodwell earlier this week in case Cleverley could not regain his fitness, so the England manager will not be adding another name to his 21-man party.

With Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere already out through injury, Cleverley's absence restricts Hodgson's options in midfield even further.

Rodwell, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard are the England manager's only three recognised central midfielders, although James Milner and Phil Jones can operate effectively in that position too.

Lampard, along with Chelsea team-mates Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill, returned early from the Blues' tour of the United States last week in order to keep them fresh for the game against the Republic on Wednesday and the glamour tie against Brazil in the Maracana four days later.

Despite that, Rodwell is likely to play some part in the two internationals - something which will undoubtedly boost the player's morale after his first season at Manchester City was blighted by injury.

Hodgson's options in the forwards department decreased by one five days ago when Andy Carroll was forced to withdraw due to a heel injury.

Although the home friendly against Giovanni Trapattoni's side will no doubt be an entertaining game, Sunday's international in Brazil will serve as a good barometer for England's chances of success in Rio next summer should they qualify for the World Cup.

Not since the heady days of Italia '90 have England made it to the last four of

a major championship.

They have fallen at the quarter-final stage in four of the last five tournaments they have played in, the exception being the 2010 World Cup when Fabio Capello's men suffered a humiliating second-round exit at the hands of old foe Germany.

Aside from a friendly win against Brazil at Wembley, England have rarely offered any indication that next year's tournament in Rio de Janeiro will be any different. Given that they currently trail Group H leaders Montenegro by two points, they may not even qualify.

Yet Glen Johnson, like many others, is quietly confident that with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Joe Hart, and Wayne Rooney on board, the Three Lions could shatter that glass ceiling that has prevented them from reaching the latter stages in recent years.

Johnson, speaking on behalf of England team sponsor Vauxhall, said: "With the squad we have got we can definitely do better in a major tournament.

"In each game there are tiny little elements that decide each game.

"A matter of inches can determine if you win, but ratio wise we have been generally going out around the quarter-final stages so you certainly do want to improve on that.''

The desire of Hodgson's men to leapfrog Montenegro and ensure their passage to the World Cup will surely intensify when they visit the host nation for a showpiece friendly at the world-famous Maracana.

The Liverpool defender's eyes beam and a warm smile stretches across his face when he talks about Brazil's history and the icons they have produced since the birth of the game.

When he was young, Johnson used to marvel at videos of Pele's skills so playing on the ground where the Brazilian produced some of the best football of his career is an exciting prospect for the right-back from south-east London.

"I can guarantee that there aren't many players in that squad who have played in that stadium so I am sure that the lads will be looking forward to it,'' he added.

"It will be nice to have it on the CV, definitely.

"I would say Brazil are the most romantic of teams, purely for variety.

"They could play their third team and still be very competitive in each major tournament.

"They have got some unbelievable players. Some players don't stay around as long as they should do, but the next one that steps in will be just as good so they are always fun to watch.''


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