Tag Archives: physio

Rio Ferdinand is likely to play in both England qualifiers after Michael Dawson and Gary Chaill picked up injuries

Cahill and Dawson injuries put onus on Ferdinand to play in both England qualifiers

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

18:27 GMT, 17 March 2013

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UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 17 March 2013

Roy Hodgson’s plans for Rio Ferdinand during England’s two World Cup qualifiers took a dramatic twist after Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill suffered injuries on Sunday.

Ferdinand has been told by Sir Alex Ferguson he will be needed to play three games in 10 days for Manchester United when he returns from international duty.

Hodgson planned to rest Ferdinand for the game against San Marino in Rimini on Friday and pair him with Cahill for the top-of-the-table clash against Montenegro the following Tuesday.

Heavy workload: England's defensive crisis means Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is now likely to start both qualifiers

Heavy workload: England's defensive crisis means Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is now likely to start both qualifiers. Ferdinand is also in line to play three matches in 10 days for Manchester United

Second chance: Joleon Lescott could feature for England after initially being dropped from the squad

Second chance: Joleon Lescott could feature for England after initially being dropped from the squad

Injury worry: Michael Dawson (right) played the first half for Tottenham against Fulham but picked up an injury and is now a doubt for England's World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro

Injury worry: Michael Dawson (right) played the first half for Tottenham against Fulham but picked up an injury and is now a doubt for England's World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro

However, the 34-year-old may be pressed into action for both games after Dawson and Cahill picked up knocks on club duty.

Manchester City centre back Joleon Lescott has been called up after Dawson was ruled out with a hamstring injury suffered in Tottenham’s 1-0 home defeat by Fulham, while Cahill will be assessed by England physio Gary Lewin at the St George’s Park training centre.

He played 90 minutes in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over West Ham but later had treatment on an ankle injury.

Ferdinand has been given Ferguson’s blessing to join the England squad for the first time in nearly two years, but it is not without complications.

The United defender has been told he is needed for games against Sunderland (March 30), Chelsea in the FA Cup (April 1) and Manchester City (April 8).

Despite the concerns of his club manager, Ferdinand’s call-up has gone down well in the United dressing room.

‘It’s good for Rio,’ said team-mate Nemanja Vidic. ‘He deserves the call, he has played well this season and can help the national team.

More trouble: Gary Cahill (right) has also had to pull out of the England squad due to injury

More trouble: Gary Cahill (right) has also had to pull out of the England squad due to injury

Selection headache: Aaron Lennon is also a doubt after missing Tottenham's match with Fulham

Selection headache: Aaron Lennon is also a doubt after missing Tottenham's match with Fulham

‘He would have two international games, then when he comes back we have two games in three days in the Premier League and FA Cup.

‘Can he play all of these games All I can say is that I hope he does well.’

Meanwhile, Spurs winger Aaron Lennon, who missed the Fulham defeat with groin and hamstring problems, will not be available for Hodgson.

‘He won’t make it,’ said Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas. ‘He’s been struggling with injuries. We risked him against Inter Milan and he is on the brink of rupturing a muscle.’

Gareth Bale also needed lengthy treatment after appearing to twist an ankle in the first half against Fulham, but Villas-Boas expects him to be fit for international duty with Wales.

LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo live – David Beckham farewell

LIVE: LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo – follow David Beckham's US farewell in the MLS Cup final

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 1 December 2012

Tonight David Beckham plays his final match for Los Angeles Galaxy before leaving for one last challenge in football. Sportsmail will bring you all the latest news from the Home Depot Center as Beckham aims to leave on a high by defending the MLS Cup against Houston Dynamo.

18min Great chance! Beckham with a peach of a free-kick from the right and Mike Magee, five yards out, really should have found the net with a diving header.

Seconds later, Wilhelmsson appealing vocally for a penalty after racing clear. No chance, replied the referee.

16min Chance up the other end for Calen Carr who audaciously tries to flick the ball in from a left-wing cross. But he's a long way out and it sails comfortably over the bar.

14min A little delay while Houston's Brad Davis received attention from the physio. Becks really finding his range now, locating Wilhelmsson with a lovely ball out wide.

Update from our man in LA:

'Almost 15 minutes gone and Galaxy should be ahead. Beckham’s raking pass from his own half set Robbie Keane clear down the left. Keane did the right thing and squared the ball to Landon Donovan, who only had to slide it in to the net from ten yards. He didn’t. He side-footed it wide. I would have scored. Really, I would.'

12min What a chance missed by the Galaxy! Beckham, glorious 60-yard diagonal ball to Keane who sprints forward and puts it on a plate for Donovan. But, with the whole stadium ready to erupt, he slips it wide of the post. Very out of character for the former Everton man to miss that.

10min The Galaxy are enjoying the majority of possession now and feeling their way into the game. The Home Depot Center has a weird grassy area above one of the stands which is sparsely populated compared to the sold-out stands elsewhere.

7min First involvement for Robbie Keane, whose persistence created a half-chance for Landon Donovan, whose shot dribbles harmlessly to the goalkeeper.

Landon going for his fifth MLS title today.

5min Quick thinking from Beckham, who lofts a free-kick into the path of Christian Wilhelmsson. The ball skips away off the turf and into the hands of Hall.

4min it's been a nervy start for Saunders in net for the Galaxy, flapping at a couple of crosses. Ian Ladyman writes:

'We are underway at the Home Depot Center and Beckham is
sporting the most wonderful pair of pink boots. Just in case he is hard to pick
out. His first touch saw him dumped on his backside while it’s Houston who had
the first chance, midfielder Ricardo Clark – yes, the Ricardo Clark – seeing
his angles shot beaten away by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders. The Houston
goalie, by the way, is called Tally Hall. I don’t know why I find that amusing,
I just do.'

1min First involvement for Beckham and he's brought down just inside the Houston half – nothing given.

Strong start from the Dynamo, with Ricardo Clark stinging the palms of LA Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders.

21.57 HOUSTON GET THE 2012 MLS CUP FINAL UNDERWAY

21.54 The commentators are discussing how this could also be Landon Donovan's farewell. But he's only 30, seven years younger than Beckham. If it is to be the case, his departure is likely to be part of a massive Galaxy post-season shake-up. There is speculation that Kaka is on his way over from Real Madrid and maybe even Frank Lampard from Chelsea.

21.52 Understandably given how they outnumber their visitors, the Galaxy fans can be heard loudest. They'll want to see one of these tonight:

21.49 There seems to be a whole legion of young mascots – each of the Galaxy players seems to have three each! No sightings of Victoria and the kids yet…

21.47 Here we go! The two teams are walking out, passing in front of the Galaxy fans behind one of the goals. Dramatic music sets the tone. Fireworks fizz into the sky from colourful flags.

Houston looking very Blackpool-like in their tangerine kits, while the Galaxy are in their traditional all-white.

21.46 Ian Ladyman updates us as we move closer to kick-off:

'It’s almost time for the teams to emerge here. The rain has stopped and the sun has come out. Maybe it is to be a golden farewell for Beckham, after all. Home advantage looks like being significant for Galaxy. The Houston fans are located in one tiny corner of the stadium and there only looks to be about 1500 or so of them. Welcome to a cup final the American way.'

Abide With Me, anyone

21.44 Here's a couple more homemade Beckham tribute efforts..

Nice one Dav... A tribute banner at the Home Depot, while the makers of this England flag (below) have made an early claim for his shirt

Nice one Dav… A tribute banner at the Home Depot, while the makers of this England flag (below) have made an early claim for his shirt

Fans with banners for LA Galaxy's David Beckham ahead of the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center,

21.40 Twenty minutes until the big kick-off and the stadium is almost full. Even the sun has come out, which will please Ian Ladyman. The home Ultras can be heard getting the atmosphere started.

21.37 This is Tinseltown, so there's bound to be a bit of celebrity interest. Here's actor Gerard Butler being shown to his seat (look how happy he looks):

Actor Gerard Butler arrives before the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center, Los Angeles, USA

21.33 And here, ladies and gentlemen, are your team line-ups:

LA Galaxy: (4-4-2) Saunders; Dunivant, Gonzalez, Meyer, Franklin, Magee, Juninho, Beckham, Wilhelmsson, Keane, Donovan

Subs: DeLagarza, Gaul, Noonan, Stephens, Sarvas, Perk, Buddle

Houston Dynamo: (4-4-2) Hall; Ashe, Taylor, Boswell, Sarkodie, Moffat, Clark, Davis, Garcia, Bruin, Carr

Subs: Weaver, Ching, Hainault, Kandji, Camargo, Deric, Barnes

21.32 Here's your stat pack for the match:

– This final sees two of the most successful MLS teams against each other – The Galaxy are competing in their eighth final and chasing a fourth win, which could match DC United for the most wins. The Dynamo are playing in the final for the fourth time in the seven year history of their franchise, having won it in 2006 and 2007.
– In the team's single meeting this season, on May 26, Houston won 2-1 at the BBVA Compass Stadium – Edson Buddle gave the Galaxy a tenth minute lead but an own goal from Mike Magee levelled the scores and Andre Hainault grabbed the winner after 57 minutes.
– This final is the meeting of the lowest combined seeds ever to reach the championship match – Galaxy finished fourth in the Western division, Houston were fifth in the Eastern.
– Their regular season head-to-head record is very close – Each has six wins apiece with four draws. The goals have been scored 19-18 in Houston's favour
– Houston will be looking to end a Western dominance in the competition, with nine of the last eleven finals going West.

21.23 But, of course, there are 21 other players on the field tonight, including Team USA's greatest ever forward Landon Donovan and another familiar name Robbie Keane, who has been in outstanding form.

Houston, meanwhile, have Glaswegian Adam Moffat in midfield, formerly of Ross County and Elgin City, and Ricardo Clark, whom you might recall from the 2010 World Cup.

Familiar faces: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (below) will feature up front for the LA Galaxy tonight

Familiar faces: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (below) will feature up front for the LA Galaxy tonight

Landon Donovan of the LA Galaxy

21.15 It may be all banners and tributes tonight, but remember that it wasn't so long ago that Beckham was being criticised by fans and teammates alike for being over-papped, over-paid and over here.

But he's slowly won them over, scoring 20 goals in his 116 LA Galaxy appearances over the last six years and helping them to three MLS Cup finals.

21.13 There's some history here… In fact, tonight's match is a rerun of last year's MLS Cup final, also played at the Home Depot. Here's a reminder of how that went:

21.09 But while most of us are hoping for a fantasy farewell for Beckham as he packs he bags for the south of France or wherever else he's wanted, this game isn't going to be easy.

The Galaxy have certainly struck form at the right time – after scraping into the play-offs following a fourth place finish in the Western Conference, they have overcome the Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders to make the final.

Meanwhile, Houston finished fifth in the Eastern Conference, meaning they had to overcome Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls and DC United to get this far.

21.05 The man of the moment has arrived, looking debonair as usual in his LA Galaxy suit. Meanwhile, all around the Home Depot, which is of course the home of the Galaxy, the supporters have prepared their own tributes.

Commeth the hour: David Beckham arrives at the Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup final and his farewell appearance for LA Galaxy

Commeth the hour: David Beckham arrives at the Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup final and his farewell appearance for LA Galaxy

Tributes: These Galaxy fans prepared a banner to pay tribute to their hero

Tributes: These Galaxy fans prepared a banner to pay tribute to their hero

Fans of LA Galaxy's David Beckham display banners before the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center

21.02 Manchester to Madrid to Los Angeles (via short stop-offs in Preston and Milan)… That has been the career path of David Beckham over the past two decades.

Who knows what the future may hold – the man himself doesn't, as Ian Ladyman found out when he caught up with Becks at Galaxy training this week.

And our man in California has this to start setting the scene:

'It’s all rather ‘Manchester’ here in Los Angeles as kick-off approaches. The sun did show its face over Venice Beach this morning but it’s raining here in Carson as the supporters start to gather inside Home Depot. They are expecting a full-house of just over 30,000 and have even erected some temporary seating to squeeze a few more in. We hope it’s going to be worth it.'

21.00 The latest chapter in the tale of David Beckham has almost been written – but just one blank page remains.

Will it be the fairytale finale to his American adventure or a crushing disappointment that forces him to eek another few years out of those golden legs

A warm welcome to our coverage of the 2012 MLS Cup final between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo – Beckham's farewell appearance.

Kick-off is fast approaching and you won't miss a moment here with us.

Farewell: David Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane for a final time

Farewell: David Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane for a final time

Moussa Dembele: Hip injury is worse than before

Hip injury is worse than before, admits Dembele as Spurs star fights his way back to fill fitness

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UPDATED:

17:04 GMT, 28 November 2012

Tottenham's Moussa Dembele has reveled the pain in his hip has never been so intense as he works his way back to full fitness.

The 25-year-old has quickly become a favourite at White Hart Lane since joining in the summer, despite making only a handful of appearances at the club before injury jeopardised his season.

'I've had this hip problem before but this time it has been worse than it ever was in the past,' he told the Evening Standard.

Road to recovery: Dembele has not started a game for Spurs since the beginning of October

Road to recovery: Dembele has not started a game for Spurs since the beginning of October

'Normally I can rest for three or four days and it is okay but this time the pain was more intense and I needed a longer spell out. I've worked with a personal physio in Belgium and it requires a lot of exercises. When I first got the problem again, I was worried that I would have to have an operation but the medical staff at Tottenham were very good.

'We searched for the best doctors that there were to treat hip injuries and I was supported very well. I'm happy the club gave me the time and space I needed to be pain-free again.

'When I thought I would need an operation, it was a difficult time for me and I wasn't happy but, unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do about it. Luckily, I've now been given the all-clear to play by the doctors.'

Rest: The midfielder claims the pain in his hip is 'more intense' than before

Rest: The midfielder claims the pain in his hip is 'more intense' than before

The midfielder suffered a recurrence of the injury while on international duty early last month and he has not started a game for Spurs since the 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at the beginning of October.

'It's good to be back on the pitch again, even just for short spells, after having more than a month out,' said Dembele.

'The injury is okay now and it's about coming back slowly. I didn't feel as though I could have played a full game against Lazio or West Ham but it's a lot better.

'I need to talk to the manager to see when it's right for me to play 90 minutes but I hope I can do my bit now and help the team. I always want them to do well so I wasn't happy to see the poor results.

'They have played some good games and they haven't always been lucky but I hope I can give a bit extra and help them a bit more. I am a creative player and I can bring something more to the team.'

Florent Malouda seeking "beautiful challenge"

Chelsea outcast Malouda desperate for beautiful move away in January

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UPDATED:

09:00 GMT, 7 November 2012

Florent Malouda is stepping up his bid land a 'beautiful' move away from Chelsea in January after seeing his Blues career end in humiliating fashion.

The Frenchman has spent the season training with the academy and Under 21 sides after failing to secure a summer move away from Stamford Bridge.

Teams in Brazil, as well as his former club Lyon all showed an interest while the window was open, but Malouda refused to take a significant wage drop from his 80,000 a week.

Feeling Blue: Florent Malouda is desperate to quit Chelsea in January

Feeling Blue: Florent Malouda is desperate to quit Chelsea in January

And with Chelsea actively seeking to move him on without much help from his advisors, Malouda was ostricised from the first team squad.

But with January fast approaching, the 32-year-old is thinking positive.

In the Daily Mirror, Malouda's personal physio Stephane Renaud said: 'He is training with Chelsea's juniors, but his attitude is good and he's prepared for one last beautiful challenge.'

The forward last appeared for Roberto di Matteo's side in May's Champions League final against Bayern Munich, when he was introduced with his side still trailing in the second half.

However, after appearing in three of France's Euro 2012 matches, Malouda returned to London to find himself surpluss to requirements.

Throughout the summer his most likely destination appeared Brazil, and more specifically Santos, but in October the club dismissed speculation they would make a fresh bid.

Last month, vice president Odilio Rodrigues said: 'There is no interest for Malouda, he is not in our plans and if the English press is giving details about it, it must be because some agent is telling that to them to increase his value.

'But there is nothing from Santos.'

Malouda has won the Champions League, the Premier League title and three FA Cups since joining Chelsea in 2007, and was the club’s players’ player of the year in 2010.

Paul Gascoigne wants coaching return

Gazza plans coaching comeback as troubled star eyes Bournemouth role

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UPDATED:

13:47 GMT, 5 November 2012

Paul Gascoigne is planning yet another football comeback as the former England midfielder considers a return to coaching.

Together with England physio Gary Lewin, Gascoigne, 45, is arranging a hip operation to help him get fit.

Gazza then hopes to coach children at League One side Bournemouth, according to the Daily Mirror.

Comeback: Paul Gascoigne wants to resume his coaching career

Comeback: Paul Gascoigne wants to resume his coaching career

He said: 'I might start doing my coaching badges again. When I’m coaching I need to twist and turn properly so I can show the lads some of the amazing things I used to do.'

The ex-Newcastle and Tottenham midfielder has battled an alcohol addiction since quitting the game and began his coaching career at Portuguese team Algarve United in 2005.

After a contract failed to materialise, Gascoigne took over at Kettering Town but lasted just 39 days in the hotseat.

Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes ruled out of England"s game with Fiji

Blow for England as Hartley and Lawes ruled out of Fiji Test and face race to be fit for rest of series

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UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 30 October 2012

Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes have been ruled out of England's opening Autumn international game with Fiji through injury.

And Hartley is in danger of missing the entire series after damaging his knee playing for Northampton at the weekend.

Hartley will definitely miss the opening game against Fiji on November 10, as will his Northampton team-mate Courtney Lawes while Jonathan Joseph remains a significant doubt.

Ruled out: Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes sit out training with England physio Phil Pask and will not play against Fiji

Ruled out: Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes sit out training with England physio Phil Pask and will not play against Fiji

Hartley has not officially been ruled out
of the series but he faces an uphill battle to be available and back to
Test-match pace by the time New Zealand arrive at Twickenham on
December 1.

'Courtney Lawes has got an injury that will probably be one or two weeks and Dylan will be a couple of weeks after that,' Lancaster said.

'They won't be available for the Fiji game. They are reasonable injuries.

'Dylan could potentially be available towards the end of the series but a lot of things have to happen before then.

Plenty to think about: England head coach Stuart Lancaster will be without a number of key players

Plenty to think about: England head coach Stuart Lancaster will be without a number of key players

'We have got to get him some game-time for Northampton before we can pitch him into international rugby, particularly if you look at our last two games against South Africa and New Zealand.'

Hartley's injury – added to those already suffered by Bath hooker Rob Webber and Harlequins' Joe Gray – leaves England choosing between the uncapped Tom Youngs and David Paice for the number two jersey.

Joseph will not return to training until next week after suffering an ankle injury, although England are more confident over the fitness of prop Joe Marler, who has a slight hamstring strain.

Hartley and Lawes will continue treatment with Northampton while nine other squad members have been available for Premiership duty this weekend.

Keeping the armband: Chris Robshaw will captain England

Keeping the armband: Chris Robshaw will captain England

Anthony Allen, Mike Brown, Phil Dowson, Ben Morgan, James Haskell, Jordan Turner-Hall and Ben Youngs were all released by England Tuesday night.

Worcester prop Matt Mullan and Harlequins lock George Robson, who were initially called up as injury cover for Joe Marler and Lawes, will train with England tomorrow before returning to their clubs.

Lancaster insisted those who are in Premiership action this weekend are still in consideration for the Fiji game on November 10.

'Some return for further treatment from their club and others to get some game time to put a marker down for selection for when we meet again on Sunday after the weekend's games,' Lancaster said.

'We will not finalise selection for the Fiji game until after training next Tuesday and so for those going back and playing this is a real opportunity to stake a claim with a really big performance.'

Micah Richards out for two months

Blow for City as crocked Richards faces two months on sidelines after knee surgery

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 29 October 2012

Micah Richards will be out for six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his injured knee at a Manchester hospital on Monday.

The Manchester City defender saw a specialist who recommended immediate surgery to mend a torn knee cartilage.

Richards suffered the injury near the end of City's win over Swansea in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.

Crocked: Micah Richards will be sidelined for up to two months

Crocked: Micah Richards will be sidelined for up to two months

There were fears that the England international had damaged knee ligaments, something that could have ruled him out until the end of the season.

However, those fears were allayed and Richards was told after his operation that his lay-off will be weeks rather than months. The surgery was a key-hole operation, a procedure that reduces the recovery time.

Return: David Silva (centre) is back in England following treatment

Return: David Silva (centre) is back in England following treatment

Meanwhile, City winger David Silva is back in England after spending a week in Spain having physio on a hamstring injury.

The Spanish international hopes to be back in training with his City team-mates towards the end of the week but will not play against West Ham on Sunday.

Manchester City"s Micah Richards has knee operation

City fears as Richards undergoes knee operation after suffering injury in Swans win

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UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 29 October 2012

Micah Richards underwent surgery on his injured knee at a Manchester hospital on Monday afternoon.

The City defender saw a specialist at lunchtime who recommended immediate surgery to mend a torn knee cartilage.

Richards suffered the injury near the end of Saturday's narrow win over Swansea in the Barclays Premier League.

Operation: Richards went under the knife on Monday afternoon

Operation: Richards went under the knife on Monday afternoon

Fears: Micah Richards was forced off on a stretcher during City's win over Swansea

There were fears that the England
international had damaged knee ligaments, something that could have
ruled him out until the end of the season.

However, those fears were allayed on Monday morning and Richards is hopeful that his lay-off will be weeks rather than months.

Monday afternoon’s surgery is likely to have been a key-hole operation, a procedure that reduces the recovery time.

Richards and City manager Roberto Mancini will not receive the full prognosis until later on Monday.

Meanwhile, City winger David Silva is back in England after spending a week in Spain having physio on a hamstring injury.

The Spanish international hopes to be
back in training with his City team-mates towards the end of the week
but will not play against West Ham on Sunday.

Manchester City taught a lesson by Ajax academy stars – Neil Ashton

Neil Ashton: City stars taught a harsh lesson from the Amsterdam academy

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UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 24 October 2012

The iconic red and white shirts are instantly recognisable and so is the specific playing style.

With seven homespun players twisting and turning on the field, it is a firm nod in the direction of Ajax’s glorious past.

They still rely on graduates from their fabled Toekomst training academy on the outskirts of Amsterdam to push for places in Frank de Boer’s first team.

Conductor: Frank De Boer's largely home-grown team helped dismantle City

Conductor: Frank De Boer's largely home-grown team helped dismantle City

Ajax

There is much to be admired about the policy of promoting young players, but Manchester City are in a hurry to make their move on the rest of Europe.

It is a clash of cultures and cash, a collision of philosophies that could ultimately still end in elimination from Group D for both of these teams.

Micah Richards was the sole academy graduate in City’s team, making the initial run that led to Samir Nasri’s first goal in the Champions League since he quit Arsenal. There will be more like Richards in the future when City’s new academy beds in, although the appearance of Cheadle-born George Evans on the substitutes’ bench is progress of sorts.

The 17-year-old midfielder, son of former City player and physio Ron Evans, was an unexpected selection by Roberto Mancini.

At Ajax this is normal, nothing out of the ordinary for a team that has appointed 12 successive managers born in Holland.

What’s new is old at Ajax and the angled balls played by Ricardo van Rhijn, Daley Blind and goalscorers Siem de Jong, Christian Eriksen and Niklas Moisander are a throwback to the Champions League winning team of 1995.

Back then they fielded nine players from the Ajax academy for the final against Milan in Vienna, but reaching the latter stages is now a far-and-away dream for City.

Last season Mancini’s team equalled a record when they failed to qualify for the second round of the Champions League after collecting 10 points.

After three games, that is now the maximum return for a team that has been in rude health in the Barclays Premier League.

In Europe, it is time for a radical rethink.

Throwback: Cristian Eriksen is reminiscent of Ajax players of old

Throwback: Cristian Eriksen is reminiscent of Ajax players of old

Rafael Nadal interview on his struggle with injury

EXCLUSIVE: King of pain Nadal on his struggle to beat career-threatening injury

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 September 2012

This month the most pressing question in tennis has changed. No longer is it: can Andy Murray win a Grand Slam It is: when will Rafael Nadal be back, and will he be the same Rafa as before

It would be pleasing to report that, three months into his enforced absence from the sport, the 26-year-old Spaniard can answer in the same emphatic fashion that Murray did at Flushing Meadows two weeks ago.

You would hope Nadal, this most affable and exceptional athlete, could put a firm timeline on his progress and state when he will return to what is now a much changed landscape at the top of men’s tennis.

Anguish: Rafael Nadal has not been seen on a tennis court since his surprise second-round loss at Wimbledon

Anguish: Rafael Nadal has not been seen on a tennis court since his surprise second-round loss at Wimbledon

Yet, as we sit in one of Madrid’s plushest boutique hotels, it becomes apparent that he cannot, and that he is unlikely to play again this year.

In his first major interview since Wimbledon, he talks of his anguish at missing the Olympics, his joy at Murray’s triumph in New York and his frustration at having to play so much on the hard courts which have so damaged his knees.

It is impossible to escape the topic of his patella, which has prevented him from setting foot on a tennis court since losing in the second round at Wimbledon to Czech unknown Lukas Rosol at the end of June.

Nadal is on a painful regime of rehab and strengthening exercises and swimming at least a kilometre every morning. The one consolation is that he has been allowed to play some amateur golf tournaments in Majorca, and that his handicap is down below four.

Forever in pain: Nadal is tended to by a physio

Forever in pain: Nadal is tended to by a physio

But he is still not back on court and is almost certain to miss the Barclays ATP World Finals at the O2 Arena in November and, most probably, Spain’s appointment in the Davis Cup final.

‘All that is in my mind is to keep working hard to come back,’ he says. ‘I cannot think about the future because it’s not like if you break your arm and you know you will have a few weeks like this, then a few weeks like that and then you are back. This is a day-by-day thing, I have checks every week to see how I’m improving. I can’t predict what will happen.’

No athlete enjoys talking about injuries, especially one as long-running as this, a tear in the tendon and a general wearing of the tissue pad under the bone, yet he patiently indulges the inevitable inquiries.

‘I hope you see me in Australia,’ says Nadal, who is in the Spanish capital to promote his involvement with PokerStars. ‘That is the biggest goal for me, to come back just before then in Qatar, but I cannot say for sure it is going to happen.

‘The only thing is to recover well. I want to be 100 per cent when I come back. I don’t want to keep playing every day with doubts, not knowing if my knee is going to answer all the questions.’

When it comes to the unthinkable — an early end to his career — there is defiance, and he points out that ‘nobody has had to retire with what I have’. But he can only look back on a summer of despair since his remarkable seventh triumph at the French Open in early June.

‘Was it a mistake to play at
Wimbledon Maybe, but when you are playing well it is hard to stop. At
Roland Garros I had to play with anti-inflammatories to get through.
After that I felt really bad. My practice before Wimbledon was terrible.
I played the first round with injections, otherwise it would have been
impossible. That doesn’t help the knee.

‘I’ve
played a lot in pain before as other people have done. The problem is
when you run and you are thinking about where you are planting your leg.
It is impossible to compete like that.

At home on clay: Nadal won the French Open title earlier this year

At home on clay: Nadal won the French Open title earlier this year

‘For me the Olympics was very tough. I was very, very sad for three weeks around then. I had the chance to carry the Spanish flag. It only comes every four years. Missing the US Open was hard but you think you will have more chances.

‘The Olympics is once every four years and you don’t know how many more you will get. I will work very hard to be in Rio but it is in four years. I am 26-and-a-half, I love competition, playing tennis, and this was actually a season I enjoyed playing more than others. I have the motivation to come back and that’s what I’m going to try.’

The mood lightens when the subject turns to Murray, whose success in New York Nadal elegantly describes as ‘the normal evolution of a great player and a great talent’.

Good friends: Nadal was delighted to see Andy Murray win his first grand slam at the US Open this month

Good friends: Nadal was delighted to see Andy Murray win his first grand slam at the US Open this month

INSIGHT: PHYSIO MARK LEATHER

What began as an inflammation of the tendon in Nadal’s right knee (patella tendinitis) has become a degeneration of the tendon.

It becomes torn and frayed and will not be as strong. The idea behind surgery is to clean the area and generate fresh healing and a better-structured tendon. Tennis involves eccentric muscle work with a lot of acceleration followed by rapid deceleration.

It is that stamping of the foot as you fix and flex the leg to play a shot with all your body weight that keeps antagonising the tendon. The harder the surface, the worse it is, as more force is transmitted up from your ankle through your tendon.

At this stage of rehab he’ll be testing the muscles around his knee, getting the tendon working again, even miming the movement of a shot on a soft surface. There are treadmills that control the amount of body weight you are putting through your legs. But you can’t just concentrate on the tendon as you’re over-compensating and something else can go wrong.

Psychology is also key to rehab. Injured athletes must accept the overall timescale but also have recovery targets for every day.

‘You know I’ve said many times in press conferences that Andy would win a Grand Slam and now he has won. He deserves it more than anyone. I am very happy for him. The normal thing is that it will help him. When you are winning tournaments like this your confidence is higher, it is easier to repeat what you’ve done before. It’s good for tennis that he has come to the level that was expected.’

Aside from doing everything to be back as strong as ever, he does not rule out changing his schedule to take in more clay events, such as those in South America in February.

‘I can’t pretend not to play on hard courts when two of the Slams are on hard courts, but there is a mistake with our game. You don’t watch footballers playing on a hard surface, or basketball players, those sports with rapid movements.

‘It’s not going to change for me and my generation. Hard courts are very negative for the body. I know the sport is a business and creating these courts is easier than clay or grass, but I am 100 per cent sure it is wrong. I may have to play more on clay than before but there aren’t that many options.’

Andre Agassi once claimed Nadal’s vigorous playing style meant he was ‘writing cheques that his body can’t cash’. He has proved the likes of Agassi wrong before; many will hope he does so again.

Nadal was launching PokerStars’ Rafa’s Dream Day, where fans can win the chance to meet, play tennis and compete against him in an intimate poker game in Majorca. Details at www.pokerstars.com

Rafa Nadal

Rafael Nadal records