England plans in disarray as injuries grow
England's World Cup plans were plunged into disarray on Sunday when coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said he was in danger of losing key midfielders Kieron Dyer and Steven Gerrard to injury.
Newcastle utility player Dyer is almost certain to miss the finals after damaging his knee while Liverpool's Steven Gerrard may need an operation on a groin strain. Both players were expected to figure in Eriksson's starting eleven.
"It's very bad news," Eriksson told reporters. "Dyer is out almost for sure.
"Physiotherapists and doctors agree it will take at least four weeks before he can start working as a footballer and in four weeks' time we are playing Nigeria.
"The other bad news is Steven Gerrard. We thought it was not bad yesterday evening, but ...he has to go to a surgeon either tomorrow or Tuesday (in Belgium) and there they will take a decision if he's going to be operated on at once, or not."
Midfielder Dyer injured his right knee in Newcastle United's premier league match against Southampton on Saturday, while Gerrard suffered a groin strain during Liverpool's victory over Ipswich Town.
The England squad has been plagued with a rash of injuries in recent weeks with captain David Beckham still recovering from a broken bone in his left foot, while fellow Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt has knee ligament damage.
Eriksson, though, said both United players had assured him they expected to be fit for the finals.
Defender Gary Neville had already ruled himself out of the tournament -- where England face Argentina, Nigeria and Sweden in Group F -- after breaking a bone in his foot. Elsewhere, former captain Lucas Radebe made a late bid for inclusion in South Africa's World Cup squad with his first appearance since January 2001 in a 1-0 win over Madagascar.
Radebe, who missed the entire club season at Leeds United with knee and ankle injuries, was introduced at halftime by coach Jomo Sono in a last attempt to prove his fitness ahead of Thursday's 23-man World Cup squad announcement.
Belgium striker Emile Mpenza has said he will miss the World Cup because of a persistent groin injury.
"It won't work anymore," the Schalke 04 player said. "I have to get healthy again first."
France playmaker Zinedine Zidane says he is "frightened" by the prospect of providing the ammunition for his country's top strikers at the World Cup finals.
In an interview in French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche, Zidane, who scored twice when France beat Brazil in the final four years ago, said: "Djibril Cisse was the top goalscorer in France, David Trezeguet was the leading scorer in Serie A and Thierry Henry the best scorer in England.
"Between the three of them, they have scored more than 100 goals in the season. I'm beginning to be frightened by all those great strikers. It gives a lot of responsibility to the man who does all the passing for France."
Turkey's soccer squad picnicked with their families near the Mediterranean Sea in a bid to relax ahead of the country's first World Cup appearance in 48 years.
Television pictures showed mothers wearing traditional Islamic headscarves mingling with trendy soccer wives and children as the national team marked Mothers' Day with an afternoon barbecue near the city of Antalya.
"There's a party atmosphere but the emphasis is on work," team manager Can Cobanoglu told Reuters by phone from the training camp.
The Turkish squad have decided to exclude the foreign media from their practices, fearing prying eyes could reveal tactical secrets.
"It was open to all, now it's just the local press," said Cobanoglu whose team have been drawn alongside China, Brazil and Costa Rica.
"When our Chinese colleagues started getting too curious, we decided to close things down a little."
Meanwhile, unions for workers in South Korea's major hotels are threatening to strike ahead of the World Cup finals, demanding better working conditions, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Unionised workers from the country's tourist industry will rally in a Seoul park on Wednesday to press for better treatment of non-regular workers and implementation of a five-day working week, the news agency reported.
We wish the World Cup will be a success," the union group was quoted as saying by Yonhap. "But we will fight against unfair treatments being done to us in excuse for the sport event."