by John Cross
Ashley Cole has dealt England ANOTHER blow in their preparations for their Euro 2012 opener.
Chelsea left-back Cole has a stomach bug, missed training on Thursday and is also expected to sit out Friday’s session, raising doubts about his fitness for Monday’s opening group game against France.
Cole was the only player to miss a formal reception in Krakow on Thursday and his absence will be a major concern as manager Roy Hodgson prepares to face the French in Donetsk.
Leighton Baines will be on standby to step up into the starting XI, but it is another blow and came just hours after Jermain Defoe flew home following the death of his father.
Tottenham striker Defoe has told team-mates he will return to Poland as quickly as possible, and the FA have decided not to replace him in the squad because he may even be back in time for the France game.
His compassionate leave does leave England short of attacking options for Monday.
With Wayne Rooney suspended, they only have Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll and Ashley Young as forwards to face France.
But there is better news about John Terry, who is hopeful he will be fit after his injury scare because of a tight hamstring.
The Chelsea centre-back is expected to train fully on Friday to test whether he is fit enough for Monday evening.
Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker has also declared himself ready to go, despite lingering concerns from the FA medical staff over his Achilles.