By AVI CREDITOR
Tottenham defender Michael Dawson has been tabbed by Fabio Capello to replace Rio Ferdinand, who was ruled out of the World Cup after seriously injuring his knee Friday morning.
Dawson was on Capello's 30-man preliminary roster but was part of the final cuts. Now he'll get the chance to earn his first cap on the world's biggest stage. Early reports suggest that Dawson's Tottenham teammate, Ledley King, will pair with John Terry at central defense in England's World Cup opener against the United States next Saturday.
Steven Gerrard has been given the captain's armband in Ferdinand's stead, becoming the third England captain this year. Terry, the longtime captain, lost the honor to Ferdinand in the aftermath of the Wayne Bridge scandal.
In other soccer news from around the world:
ITALY'S PIRLO A DOUBT
The World Cup injury bug has hit another big name, as Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo is now a doubt for this summer's tournament.
Pirlo injured his left calf in Wednesday's friendly loss to Mexico. According to reports, the team's doctor said that the recovery time for his injury is typically 15-to-20 days, meaning that it's possible for Pirlo to be ready for the Italians' second group-stage match.
He will miss Saturday's friendly with Switzerland but will travel with the team to South Africa, where he will be further evaluated.
EMERTON TO MISS U.S. FRIENDLY
Australian midfielder Brett Emerton will not play in Saturday's friendly against the United States, with the team citing "precautionary measures" as the reason.
Australia coach Pim Verbeek said that he doesn't want to risk any injuries to his key players prior to the World Cup.
ESSIEN SIGNS EXTENSION WITH CHELSEA
Keeping with the theme of injuries and the World Cup, Ghana midfielder Michael Essien, who has already been ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, has signed a two-year extension with his club team, Chelsea.
The new deal extends Essien's stay at Stamford Bridge to 2015.
FRANCE STUNNED BY CHINA
France's run up to the World Cup got even shakier after Deng Zhou Xiang's 68th-minute free kick provided all the scoring China needed in a 1-0 upset of the European power in their Friday friendly.
Here's video of the shocking goal:
What do you make of all this injury news so close to the World Cup? Think that Dawson is worthy of a spot on England's roster and that Gerrard is worthy of the captaincy? Disappointed that Australia won't be at full strength for the friendly with the United States? Having doubts about France's ability to get out of Group A?
Share your thoughts below.