Fabio Capello is crossing his fingers that Ashley Cole recovers from his broken ankle in time to make this summer's World Cup.
Cole underwent surgery on Friday on an injury picked up at Everton on Wednesday that is set to keep him out for three months. If that timescale is correct, the only Chelsea matches he would be available for would be the FA Cup and Champions League finals, should the Londoners get that far, meaning he would have no match practice before the World Cup.
"It is sad news for me because he is a very important player," Capello acknowledged. "He is good when he defending and really dangerous when we go forward. I hope this problem will not be so serious."
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti expects Cole to make it but regardless of the long-term issues, there are immediate consequences for England ahead of their friendly with African Nations Cup winners Egypt at Wembley on March 3.
Although there are other options, specifically the flexible James Milner and his Aston Villa team-mate Stephen Warnock, Wayne Bridge is generally regarded as Cole's understudy.
Yet it is only last week John Terry was sacked as skipper for an alleged dalliance with Bridge's former girlfriend.
Although Bridge has vowed not to speak about the issue, it was claimed the 29-year-old was uncomfortable with the thought of sharing a dressing room with Terry.
However, his club boss Roberto Mancini has attempted to allay any fears about Bridge's commitment to the England cause.
"If he is picked, he will play," said Mancini. "The national team is important for every player and it is the same for Wayne Bridge.
"He is committed to playing for England and it is important for any player to play at the World Cup, especially if they are in the first XI."
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