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The Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba, reacts in pain as he goes down during a friendly game against Japan at the Stade de Tourbillon in Sion.
The Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba, reacts in pain as he goes down during a friendly game against Japan at the Stade de Tourbillon in Sion.

Ferdinand is out as Drogba awaits verdict

Ankle injury during training has forced the England captain to return even as the Ivory Coast striker suffers an arm fracture in the friendly game with Japan.

Didier Drogba's participation in the World Cup was uncertain after an Ivory Coast official said the captain broke his right arm on Friday. The team spokesman Eric Kacou told Associated Press that Drogba's fracture was confirmed by doctors after he was taken off 15 minutes into Ivory Coast's 2-0 win against Japan in a friendly. "It is a fracture in his right arm," Kacou said. "The doctor hasn't said yet whether he can play in the World Cup." However, Drogba himself did not feel good as he confided about his feelings to teammate Kolo Toure. "For him, he said, the World Cup is finished," Toure said. "We can just see on his face that he was sad and when he is like that you can't ask more," Toure said. "It is difficult for us because he is such a really important player." Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said the team hadn't officially ruled its captain out. "We are not sure yet," Eriksson said, saying Drogba's participation was "still a possibility." The injury threatens to rob the tournament of one of Africa's and world football's biggest stars. Drogba scored 29 goals in 32 English Premier League matches this season to power Chelsea to the title. The match was the final tuneup for Ivory Coast and Japan before they travel to South Africa. The Ivorians open the World Cup on June 15 against Portugal in Port Elizabeth, while Japan begins a day earlier against Cameroon in Bloemfontein. The 32-year-old striker fell after a high challenge by Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka, and appeared to be holding his right side. He was then rushed to hospital.

The England captain Rio Ferdinand's participation also formally ruled out with a left knee injury today. The injury-prone 31-year-old central defender went into a tackle and fell badly in the final minutes of their first training session in South Africa, said manager Fabio Capello. The Italian also confirmed that goalkeeper David James had missed training due to a nagging knee injury aggravated by the long overnight flight from London. Scans showed that the 31-year-old center back will be out for four to six weeks and his place in the squad will be taken by Tottenham defender Michael Dawson, while midfielder Steven Gerrard assumes the captaincy. "It is obviously bad news and everyone with the squad is very disappointed and sorry for Rio," Capello said. "It was an accidental injury in training, but had nothing to do with the pitch." It came at the end of another injury-restricted season for Ferdinand at Manchester United. Plagued by a long-standing back problem, the defender was restricted to just 12 starts for United. Matthew Upson or Ledley King, who has chronic knee problems, are likely to take Ferdinand's starting spot in central defense alongside John Terry. * Agencies

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