England's preparations for the upcoming friendly double-header against Germany and the Netherlands have been disrupted by the withdrawals of Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling. The Manchester City duo both sustained injuries during the 1-0 defeat to rivals Manchester United on 20 March and will no longer be available to face the European giants.
Sterling was recalled to the starting line-up for the first time in three matches for an eagerly anticipated derby at the Etihad Stadium, but was replaced by Fernando midway through the first half after failing to recover from a groin issue sustained in a heavy challenge from Juan Mata. Hart, meanwhile, had to be taken off on a stretcher five minutes after the break, due to a calf problem that occurred when a dire Martin Demichelis back-pass forced him into a quick reaction save from Anthony Martial.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini commented after the defeat that he expected muscle injuries to keep the pair sidelined for approximately four weeks. Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton has been recalled to the England squad as a result, although Roy Hodgson opted against seeking a replacement for Sterling.
"Obviously it's very disappointing for Joe and Raheem to suffer injuries which will rule them out of our games against Germany and Holland," Hodgson told the Football Association's (FA) official website. "They are important players in our squad and I wish them a speedy recovery."
On the inclusion of uncapped Heaton, he added: "Tom has been with us on several occasions and I welcome him back into the fold."
The FA further revealed that assistant coach Gary Neville, who is currently combining international duties with his role as manager of Valencia, will join up with the squad later than planned on Thursday (24 March) in order to devote more attention to the Spanish club following their third consecutive La Liga. England face world champions Germany at Berlin's Olympiastadion on Saturday 26 March before hosting the Netherlands at Wembley three days later.