England boss Roy Hodgson has been dealt another massive injury blow after defender Gary Cahill was ruled out of Euro 2012 with a double fracture of his jaw.
Cahill suffered the injury when he was pushed into goalkeeper Joe Hart during the first half of yesterday’s 1-0 win over Belgium at Wembley.
He was immediately sent for X-rays, although Hodgson feared the worst and that has now been realised, the Football Association have confirmed.
Liverpool’s Martin Kelly has been called up as a replacement.
It completes a disastrous week for England, who have now lost three players after central midfield duo Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard had their hopes of taking part in the finals in Poland and Ukraine dashed by injury.
The one piece of good news for Hodgson is that John Terry should be available after scans showed he had suffered no serious damage to his hamstring.
An FA statement released this afternoon read: "Gary Cahill has been withdrawn from England’s Euro 2012 squad following the injury he suffered in the match against Belgium.
"The Chelsea defender has two fractures of his jaw, one either side. The England medical team have been in close contact overnight with Cahill’s club doctors who will treat him moving forward.
"Liverpool defender Martin Kelly will be called into the squad – subject to agreement from UEFA’s medical team. Kelly trained with the England players last week and was part of the group that travelled to Norway.
"John Terry has been scanned this morning and given the all-clear. He will be re-assessed on Tuesday when the team regroup."
It is understood Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was not contacted as a potential replacement, with Hodgson believing Kelly, who last week travelled with the England party to Norway, where he made his international debut as a late substitute, would need less time to get fully fit.
The wisdom of that decision is bound to be questioned, particularly as Hodgson has lost so much experience.
Certainly it is even less likely than before that Ferdinand will play for his country again, something Sir Alex Ferguson might welcome if no one else.
It also means England will have to revise their plans for the Group D opener against France in Donetsk on June 11, when Cahill was expected to partner Terry.
The former Bolton man was replaced at Wembley yesterday by Joleon Lescott, who many felt was deserving of a starting berth anyway thanks to his superb performances in Manchester City’s title-winning campaign.
Phil Jagielka, himself called up from the standby list after Barry was ruled out with a stomach strain, is the alternative, with Manchester United’s Phil Jones presumably now acting as fourth choice in his favoured central position.
The headache emphasises why Hodgson was astute in his assessment of the Cahill incident, which was triggered by a needless push from Belgium winger Dries Mertens.
"I wasn’t too happy about it (the challenge),” said Hodgson after last night’s game. Unfortunate is too kind a word.
"When a striker is chasing a defender who is feeding a ball to the goalkeeper, those nudges and pushes take the defender into the goalkeeper.
"It is something if you have been a goalkeeper you take very unkindly to.
"The referee gave him a yellow card, which he deserved. Unfortunately for us, the consequences might be a lot more than a yellow card because a fracture is a distinct possibility."
Including Norwich keeper John Ruddy, who broke a finger on only the second day of training, Hodgson has now lost almost a fifth of his original squad.
It is hardly the best backdrop to his first major tournament as England boss, for which he was given only six weeks’ notice in the first place.
Hodgson probably will not breathe easily until Terry, Danny Welbeck, Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker have been assessed on Tuesday for minor niggles, although it is not envisaged the Three Lions will have to make any further changes before they leave for their tournament base in Krakow on Wednesday afternoon.
On the evidence of the past fortnight, Hodgson’s main hope is making his team difficult to beat.
Danny Welbeck’s well-taken winner, a couple of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain efforts and a first-half penalty box scramble apart, England created little yesterday until Jermain Defoe hit a post in the final stages.
Belgium dominated possession and for the second week running, England seemed to have difficulty keeping hold of the ball.
Yet Hodgson said he was largely satisfied with his side’s efforts thus far, even if France represent a significant step up in standard.
"I couldn’t have asked any more of them,” he said. "We haven’t picked easy fixtures but we have got through it.
"The players put their bodies on the line and, as a coach, you can’t ask any more than that.
"We can play better and we will play better.
"But the most important thing is that we got two victories and, as any coach will tell you, victories are what you need."
Lescott reacted to the news of Cahill’s fitness blow, condemning the challenge from Dries Mertens that led to the injury.
Lescott wrote on Twitter: "Gutted to hear Gaz is ruled out. The challenge that caused it was more reckless and dangerous than most 2 footed tackles so why only yellow.”