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England captain Rio Ferdinand is to miss the World Cup after suffering a knee injury in training, according to reports.

The 31-year-old defender had a scan after injuring his left knee in a challenge with striker Emile Heskey during England’s first training session since arriving in South Africa.

Ferdinand is seeking a second opinion, but a Football Association source told the BBC “it’s not looking good”. Skysports are reporting that Ferdinand is definitely out of this summer’s competition.

The FA is due to confirm the extent of Ferdinand’s injury later in a statement.

Ferdinand emerged from hospital on crutches and Tottenham’s Michael Dawson, who has been put on standby, could fly to South Africa in the next 12 hours if the Manchester United defender is unfit. Should a player be ruled out of the World Cup more than 24 hours before the kick-off of their first match, a replacement can be drafted into the 23-man squad.

If Ferdinand is out, Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard will step into the captain’s role to lead the side at the World Cup.

“The bad news is in the last moment of the training, Rio suffered a problem with the knee,” said England coach Fabio Capello.

“It was a normal tackle. He turned and then he had a problem. He has gone to hospital and we will have to wait for the scan.”

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