The World Cup hasn't yet kicked off yet and injuries are already threatening to ruin it. The list of star names who've suffered serious injuries, either threatening to, or putting them out of the World Cup totally, has become worrying.
This is nothing new as far as England fans are concerned, of course, but fans across the world are waking up to daily news of player after player succumbing to injury. David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand are obviously the big name players to miss out for England but, as the injuries mount up, the complexion of the competition changes as coaches look to change tactics, or give players as much time as possible to rehabilitate.
Carlo Ancellotti will be watching the World Cup from behind his sofa, as the Chelsea injury horror show continues. German Captain Michael Ballack was ruled out after the FA Cup Final, and Jose Bosingwa was written off well before then. Now club colleagues Michael Essien, Didier Drogba and John Obi Mikel have all since fallen by the wayside for their respective countries. Drogba thinks he will be able to play some part, but it will test his bravery to the limit to play with a newly operated on broken arm.
Even ex-Blues players aren’t avoiding the curse, with Lisanna Diarra out after finding out he is anaemic, and one of the form players of world football - Arjen Robben - struggling to shake off a hamstring tear. He’s not giving up, but it's hard to see him being the force that he has been this season if he's not 100%.
Other London-based players to suffer are Spurs’ Wilson Palacios, who left Honduras’s game against Romania on a stretcher, and West Ham’s Velon Berhami, who's tweaked his groin. Chances are Berhami will be fit, but it's doubtful Honduras’s star man will make it. Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel looks set to make it too, despite giving the Slovakians a scare after coming off after 15 minutes in their final warm up game at the weekend.
Add into the mix Gareth Barry, Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Forlan and Andrea Pirlo, who have all been carrying injuries into the tournament, and it's apparent that back room staff will have a huge roll to play in the destination of the trophy.
The vast majority of the friendlies have now taken place, so the players now have a few days before the tournament starts to get in peak shape again. Despite all the talk, though, it appears that altitude and heat aren’t going to be the main factors they could decide where the trophy goes in South Africa - it simply looks like injuries.
Robert Critchley works in the City in OTC Derivatives. He is an avid Manchester United fan, and commentates at QPR for the Soccer Sight Project.