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PLAYERS from the 32 countries taking part in the 2010 Fifa World Cup are expected to take it easy this week to avoid unnecessary injuries that could rule them out of the tournament.
England captain Rio Ferdinand and Ivory Coast skipper Didier Drogba are the latest high-profile players to sustain injuries during friendlies.
Ferdinand injured his knee towards the end of a training session at their base in Rustenburg on Friday. He was taken to hospital where a scan revealed the lanky player will not heal in time for the World Cup.
England play Platinum Stars today while English Premiership award-winning top goalscorer and Ivory Coast captain, Drogba, suffered an injury in their 2-0 win over Japan.
He broke his right arm. But the Football Association of Ivory Coast have not ruled him out of the World Cup yet.
Drogba is the fifth high-profile Chelsea player to be sidelined because of injury.
The first big name to be ruled out of the World Cup due to injury was former England captain David Beckham (Achilles tendon).
Bafana Bafana's Morgan Gould was also sidelined by injuries in the build-up to the tournament.
Brazil left-back Michel Bastos and Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo have picked up worrying knocks ahead of the World Cup.
The Netherlands winger Arjen Robben limped off the field with a left hamstring injury in their 6-1 win over Hungary in Amsterdam.
Under Fifa rules and regulations, World Cup teams can replace injured players up to a day before their opening match.