Euro 2012: John Terry declares himself fit but England face fresh fears over Ashley Cole for opener against France
Terry’s fitness is a boost for manager Roy Hodgson, whose squad have been severely hit by injuries – losing Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and goalkeeper John Ruddy from the original selection. There was fresh concern over Ashley Cole on Thursday as he sat out the 80-minute training session because of an upset stomach. It was initially feared that Cole, who has not missed a minute of tournament football for England since the 2002 World Cup finals and is set to win a 95th cap against France, would not be able to take part in an open training session in Krakow on Friday. But the left-back, who has been managing an ankle problem for some time which also limits his involvement in training, still has three days to be declared fit ahead of England’s match against the French in Donetsk with the squad flying to Ukraine on Sunday. His understudy is Everton’s Leighton Baines but if Cole, whose condition was reportedly improving last night, was ruled out it would be a huge blow. There was another setback on Thursday with Jermain Defoe having to fly back to England following the death of his father, Jimmy, who lost his fight against throat cancer. He was being treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. The striker left the team hotel 10 minutes before the rest of the squad boarded the coach for training on Thursday morning and was escorted back to Krakow airport. Hodgson was aware of the illness and knew there was a possibility that Defoe’s father might pass away during the tournament. Later, Defoe said on Twitter: “I want to thank the fans, my family and friends, the England boys, the FA and the manager for their support. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. I love you all, may God bless you. A special thank you to Royal Marsden’s doctors and nurses who looked after my dad. Very special people.” Defoe will miss the France game but is expected to return to rejoin the squad and there are no plans to call up a replacement. It means England go into the match with just two strikers, in Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll, because Wayne Rooney is suspended for the opening two group games. On Thursday it appeared that Welbeck, who scored the only goal against Belgium, trained with what might be the first-choice XI, with Stewart Downing also in the line-up on the left of midfield with James Milner on the other flank. However, Hodgson has three more days of training to decide on his team that is also likely to include Scott Parker as Steven Gerrard’s central midfield partner. Parker also said on Thursday night that he was fully fit and not feeling any pain in the Achilles problem that had ruled him out of Tottenham Hotspur’s final matches of the season. Members of the England squad will on Friday visit the Auschwitz concentration camp with other players – including the captain, Gerrard, who has already been to Auschwitz – going to the Schindler factory in Krakow, which is now a museum. The party going to Auschwitz is expected to include Rooney, Joe Hart, Theo Walcott, Jack Butland, Baines and Jagielka, who has Polish grandparents who emigrated to England after the Second World War. As part of their desire to be more fully involved in the local community where they are based – England’s team hotel is in the centre of Krakow – the squad and officials on Thursday night also attended a civic reception hosted by the city’s mayor in the 19th Century Polish Art Gallery in the main square. Cole, as he was feeling unwell, was the only other absentee apart from Defoe.