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Nov 17, 2008

Capello takes issue with Gerrard injury claim

England coach Fabio Capello has risked the wrath of Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez after forcing Steven Gerrard to report for duty ahead of Wednesday's friendly in Germany, despite being declared unfit by his club.

Gerrard tore a muscle in his right leg during Saturday's 2-0 at Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool's doctors ruled him out of the international match in Berlin.

But Capello has ordered Gerrard to undertake the 200-mile journey to England's Hertfordshire team hotel, where he will be assessed by Football Association medical staff before a final decision on his availability is reached later on Monday.

Chelsea and England captain John Terry is also being assessed following the foot injury he sustained during Chelsea's 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion.

An FA spokesman said: "John Terry and Steven Gerrard have both reported to the team hotel tonight [Sunday] and will be assessed tomorrow [Monday] by the England medical staff."

The decision to assess Gerrard will no doubt re-open the club versus country row and the crunch will come if England's doctor's declare the Liverpool skipper fit to play in Germany.

This is the first time that Capello has exercised his right under FIFA rules to have his own medical staff examine a player whose club claim is injured.

The England manager has been hit by a host of withdrawals and his hard-line stance is likely to stamp out any dubious diagnoses by the clubs.

With the likes of Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney ruled out before the Italian named his 23-man party and Joe Hart, Gerrard and possibly Terry pulling out before the Three Lions have begun a training session, Capello's efforts at maintaining the momentum built up by four straight World Cup qualifying wins have been cruelly undermined.

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