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The missing World Cup XI

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SOCCER-WORLD/You could go for a three-pronged attack of Nani, Didier Drogba and Arjen Robben. How about Michael Ballack, David Beckham, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien in your midfield? And build your defence around Rio Ferdinand.

Welcome to a new kind of Fantasy Football — the World Cup Injured XI.

I haven’t yet scoured the statistics books, but veterans in the game cannot remember a World Cup so badly hit by injuries to big names before it even started. Not all of them are out for the whole tournament, of course, but some big names are , and what a shame the first World Cup on the continent has already lost so much star power.

So what’s the reason for all these injuries? Is it simply an older generation past its prime? Are players simply less tough than their predecessors? Are the modern physical demands too much? Or is just bad luck?

As you theorise, pick your XI from the increasing list of fantastic players on the injury-table. Here’s a first stab from my colleague Patrick Johnston, with a few overlooked players thrown in to make it a real Missing World Cup XI:

Walcott left out of England World Cup squad – your views

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So England coach Fabio Capello has been pretty true to his word about only wanting in-form players in his World Cup squad.

Theo Walcott will not be going to South Africa after two patchy friendly performances where he did a lot of running but the end product again just was not there. That hat-trick in qualification in Croatia in the end did nothing for his cause.

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