Wayne Rooney will miss England's looming World Cup qualifiers and is battling to be fit for the Manchester derby this month after suffering a horrific head injury in training at Manchester United.
England manager Roy Hodgson, who was involved in an embarrassing ticket mix-up at Anfield on Sunday when the former Liverpool manager was handed a seat in an overflow area of the directors' box before the 1-0 victory against United, was informed of Rooney's condition before the game.
But with United defender Phil Jones and Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson both being injured during the game, Hodgson's plans for the Wembley clash against Moldova on Friday and the crucial qualifier against Ukraine in Kiev next Tuesday may be further disrupted should either player follow Rooney in withdrawing from the squad.
Daniel Sturridge, whose third-minute goal on his 24th birthday secured the points for Liverpool, is also a doubt with a thigh knock, but the former Chelsea forward is expected to join the England squad. Rooney's injury will be regarded as a huge blow by Hodgson, however, with the United striker England's only proven goalscorer at international level.
The 27-year-old forward was injured during final preparations at Carrington on Saturday ahead of United's 1-0 defeat at Anfield after being caught in the head by Jones's raised boot. After being without Rooney for the trip to Anfield, United manager David Moyes predicted a three-week lay-off for the player.
"Wayne is bad," Moyes said. "The cut is in the middle of his forehead where the skin is thin and it takes a long time for cuts to heal. It was a boot by Phil Jones that caught him down the forehead, but it was completely accidental. It was a blow for us because Wayne was due to play at Liverpool, but I think we are looking at him being out for three weeks."
Without Rooney, Hodgson may be forced to call up reinforcements to his attacking options with only -Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert and Sturridge named alongside Rooney in the England initial squad. Fraizer Campbell, capped once at senior level, has been tipped for selection after a bright start to the season with promoted Cardiff City, but as of last night, no decision had been made on a replacement for Rooney. Having already endured a bad start to the day with news of Rooney's injury, Hodgson appeared -exasperated when he took his seat prior to the game in an area reserved for visiting scouts next to the Anfield press box.
Hodgson, who managed Liverpool for six months during the 2010-11 season before being replaced by Kenny Dalgish, was also initially denied a ticket to the boardroom. However, Liverpool officials have insisted that this was a mistake and that his boardroom pass was inadvertently handed to another guest. After being made aware of the oversight, Hodgson was offered a boardroom pass by the club, but it is understood that he declined the offer.
Hodgson's day deteriorated with Jones limping out of the game late in the first half after the defender had landed awkwardly following an aerial challenge with Philippe Coutinho. Moyes insisted that no decision had been made on Jones's England prospects, but the Scot offered little comfort for Hodgson with his early assessment of the injury. "I don't know about Jones yet, but he had a bad twist on the ankle," Moyes said.
"It blew up fairly quickly, so we will have to see how he is." Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers proved equally uncertain about Johnson, who was injured following a challenge on Patrice Evra. "Glen took a bad knock on his ankle," Rodgers said. "It's quite bad for him to come off. And we just need to assess Sturridge, who wasn't really fit for this game because he has had a knock on the thigh and played in midweek against Notts County.
"We need to make sure we think of Liverpool first, but I'm sure Roy would see him as a starter if he is fit." Sturridge said: "I had a problem with my thigh before the game and it is still hindering me but I hope I will be OK for the squad." Hodgson's day appeared to become worse yesterday afternoon when midfielder Jack Wilshere left the field minutes before half-time during Arsenal's derby victory against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, however, played down concern, confirmed that the England midfielder was suffering from an illness ahead of the game along with Bacary Sagna, who started from the bench in the closing minutes. "He has a stomach bug, but nothing that will stop him from going to England," Wenger said of Wilshere.