Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling looks set to miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a groin injury in his sides’ 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out.
Six weeks is the mooted recovery time for the former Liverpool wideman, which must surely cast doubt on his chances of featuring at Euro 2016.
An integral attacking instrument for England, the news comes as a massive blow to Roy Hodgson, who may also be without another lynchpin in Jack Wilshere.
The Arsenal midfielder’s recovery from a broken leg has been typically prolonged, with several reported comeback dates pushed back across the campaign.
Wilshere’s yet to kick a ball, but it’s widely expected that, if he proves his fitness towards the end of the season, he will be included in Hodgson’s traveling party.
Despite their obvious qualities, hurrying the duo back in order to compete at a major tournament is more likely to hurt than help the team, or so history would suggest.
Wayne Rooney’s rushed rehabilitation ahead of World Cup 2006 is a prominent example highlighting the dangers of this. The Manchester United striker broke his foot six weeks before England’s opening game in Germany and, without playing any part in the build up to the tournament, still traveled with the squad and featured in four of the Three Lions five matches, without scoring.
Michael Owen had also sustained an identical injury that season, though his came in December 2005. The at-the-time Newcastle strike mustered one substitute appearance for the Magpies between then and the 2006 World Cup, demonstrating the length of time required to recover from such a setback.
Ahead of the 2002 World Cup, Gary Neville and David Beckham were afflicted by the same injury and were subsequently put on express rehab programmes. The latter made the plane, the former didn’t, but the dangers of hurrying half-fit players back for international tournaments were made plain for all to see once again.
In both tournaments, England were underwhelming in attack as they laboured through to the quarter finals, where their lack of vibrancy in the final third made it easy for adversaries of similar/superior stature to snuff them out.
History says that, if Sterling and Wilshere were to go to the Euros, their lack of fitness and match practice ahead of the tournament means they can only play bit-part roles at best.