Nigeria's Mikel out of World Cup

Chelsea midfielder follows England's Rio Ferdinand to airport as Drogba awaits scan.

    Rio Ferdinand's World Cup ended with England's first training session [GALLO/GETTY]

    Nigeria's top player John Obi Mikel was ruled out of the World Cup after a training ground injury sustained in his first practice back after a long layoff.

    It is the latest in a series of injury blows on the eve of football's biggest tournament, with Ghana's Michael Essien, Germany's captain Michael Ballack and England skipper Rio Ferdinand all out.

    Cote d'Ivoire's Didier Drogba may not feature after breaking a bone near his elbow in a warmup match.

    The 23-year-old Mikel, expected to lead Nigeria's midfield at the tournament in South Africa, suffered a badly bruised ankle and was ruled out on Saturday.

    Mikel had only just returned to full contact training after undergoing minor knee surgery in April.

    He had been doing light training over the last week with the Nigerian side after belatedly joining up with the World Cup squad in London last week.

    Nigeria will replace Obi Mikel with the uncapped Brown Ideye, a striker from French club Sochaux, the NFF said.

    Nigeria play a final World Cup warm-up on Sunday against North Korea in Tembisa, outside of Johannesburg.

    England puzzle

    After the loss of another of his captains, England manager Fabio Capello was
    left with more puzzles to solve as he revised his plans for his injury-hit team's World Cup campaign.

    The exit of Ferdinand, with a left knee ligament injury suffered during England's first serious training session on Friday, meant he had to reshuffle his defence, call up uncapped reserve Michael Dawson to join the squad and appoint a new captain in Steven Gerrard.

    For Gerrard, it was a late and unexpected gift to mark his 30th birthday last Sunday, but hardly the way he wanted to realise a lifelong dream.

    Like Capello, he will know that England are weaker for the loss of the experienced 31-year-old centre-back, a veteran of 78 caps and scorer of three goals.

    Ferdinand's World Cup had lasted only 32 hours before Gerrard was pitched into a job that had belonged to John Terry until he was stripped of the captaincy in February following allegations about his private life.

    Londoner Ferdinand's departure was a setback, but not a catastrophe.

    He endured an injury-hit season in which he made only 21 appearances for Manchester United and did not look anywhere near his best against either Mexico or Japan in England's final warm-up games. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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