England captain Ferdinand ruled out of World Cup

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RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — England captain Rio Ferdinand was ruled out of the World Cup on Friday after injuring his left knee in the team's first full training session in South Africa.

The 31-year-old center back sustained the ligament damage while defending against striker Emile Heskey at England's training ground near Rustenburg a week before England's opener against the United States on June 12.

Hospital tests showed that Ferdinand will be out for four to six weeks and his place on the roster will be taken by Tottenham defender Michael Dawson, while midfielder Steven Gerrard assumes the captaincy.

"It is obviously bad news and everyone with the squad is very disappointed and sorry for Rio," England coach Fabio Capello said. "It was an accidental injury in training, but had nothing to do with the pitch."

It came at the end of another injury-plagued season for Ferdinand at Manchester United, whose back problems forced the defender to just 12 starts for United.

Matthew Upson or Ledley King, who has chronic knee problems, are likely to take Ferdinand's starting spot in central defense alongside John Terry.

Dawson was cut Tuesday but put on standby as a possible replacement for Ferdinand. Under FIFA rules, injured players can be replaced up to the day before the opening game.

Another concern for Capello is the fitness of injury-prone goalkeeper David James, who was unable to train with his teammates at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus and worked separately in the gym.

James is competing for the starting spot with Robert Green and Joe Hart.

"David James has a little problem with the knee after a long flight," Capello said. "It is not such a big problem."

There was positive news regarding Gareth Barry, with the midfielder training for the first time since injuring his right ankle a month ago.

The ligament damage sustained by Barry playing for Manchester City on May 5 made uncertain his inclusion on the 23-man World Cup squad, but he made the cut after a medical check on Tuesday.

"We have to wait day by day to see what happens with the ankle," Capello said. "The work is harder every day, stronger every day.

"In the afternoons he trains in the gym with the physio and in the morning with the team, but not completely with the team. We have to be careful with every moment and make sure the ankle is really good."

Former captain David Beckham, whose World Cup campaign was ended by an Achilles' tendon injury, has traveled with the squad.

"He will help in some moments. He is not a coach and he also trains alone," Capello said. "But he is important because he is one of the symbols of England. It is important he is here and not on holiday.

"He can speak with the players and find some solutions. He is part of my team."