England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is reeling from the news that Rio Ferdinand is facing a lay-off of several weeks because of an exploratory knee operation. The Manchester United and England centre-half is due to have the operation tomorrow on his right knee.

United's £30million buy from Leeds is certain to miss Monday`s Barclaycard Premiership clash with Everton at Old Trafford. He also seems set to be sidelined for England's opening two Euro 2004 qualifiers, throwing Eriksson's plans into disarray.

England tackle Slovakia in Bratislava next Saturday and are at home to Macedonia on Tuesday week. Last week United boss Sir Alex Ferguson revealed Ferdinand was struggling with an injury to his knee.

Filed by Ciaran Cronin