World Cup setback for Lennon


LONDON, February 23 – Aaron Lennon's recovery from a groin injury has stalled in a setback for the Tottenham winger's hopes of playing for England in the World Cup finals in South Africa.Lennon, who has been hampered by the injury since December, had been thought to be recovering well but he has been unable to train at full tilt this week and a scan confirmed damage to muscle fibres.

"He was close to getting fit, but has had a bit of a setback," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said on Tuesday. "Hopefully it should not put him back much from where he was, and he could still be fit in a couple of weeks."

The injury setback has ruled Lennon out of contention for England’s squad for next week’s friendly against Egypt, which is due to be announced on Saturday evening.

Although Lennon is still expected to return soon, he could regret missing out on England’s final warm-up match before Fabio Capello names a provisional final squad for South Africa in May.

In his absence, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott is expected to be given a chance to press his case to be regarded as Capello’s first-choice option on the right flank.

Redknapp admitted that Lennon’s injury had been much more complicated than it initially appeared.

"At first the diagnosis was he could be back in four or five weeks but you never know with these groin problems, they can take time and he has had a couple of setbacks," the Spurs boss said.

"Aaron has worked hard to get fit but every time seems to have a little problem there. Hopefully, though, it will get sorted out and he will be back soon.

"So long as he gets back and gets enough match action for Tottenham to take us where we want to go, then the World Cup will follow. But, first and foremost, we have to get him back playing for Tottenham."

Redknapp, whose team take on Bolton in an FA Cup 5th round replay on Wednesday, added: "Obviously we miss him – he has got fantastic pace and scares teams to death with his ability. But we have been lucky that David Bentley has come in and shown what a top player he is as well."

Spurs also have concern over defender Ledley King, who was forced off during Sunday’s 3-0 win at Wigan with a thigh injury.