London – England captain Steven Gerrard admits he is frustrated that his side's preparations for Euro 2012 have been hit by so many injuries.
Gary Cahill became the fourth England player to be forced out of Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad after suffering a double fracture of the jaw during Saturday's 1-0 win over Belgium at Wembley.
The Chelsea defender had been in superb form for his club in recent weeks, starring in their Champions League final win against Bayern Munich, and he was in line to start England's Euro opener against France on June 11.
Instead he will be watching the finals at home, along with Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard, Manchester City's Gareth Barry and Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy, who have all been ruled out due to injuries.
With Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker, both potential starters for England, also sidelined before Hodgson even named his squad, Gerrard concedes he is starting to feel extremely vexed by the team's lack of good fortune.
“Losing Gary is a massive blow. His performances in the last six months have been colossal for Chelsea,” Gerrard said.
“He was a colossus in the Champions League final win over Bayern Munich. We needed him.
“I am angry because we have lost some big players with a tournament eight or nine days away.
“That's the blow and that's the price you pay for these warm-up games.
“To do well in these tournaments you have to have your big players and to lose Gary is another huge blow on the back of Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry.”
Cahill's injury must have been especially galling for Hodgson as it occured when Belgium midfielder Dries Mertens needlessly pushed the centre-back into goalkeeper Joe Hart.
At least Mertens was quick to apologise to Cahill, saying: “It was an accident. It was unintentional.
“He (Cahill) blocked me off and he's hit his head (on Hart's shoulder). But there was no malice in what I did.
“Absolutely, I feel for him. If that was me in his place, getting injured like that a week before the Euros, I'd feel so bad. I'm sorry he's not able to go.”
Liverpool midfielder Gerrard could have been forgiven for slamming Mertens' reckless behaviour, but he doesn't blame him for the incident.
“I don't think you can blame the guy because he was itching to score a goal,” he said.
“Maybe he got carried away but I don't think you can put any blame on the kid.” – Sapa-AFP