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England midfielder Paul Scholes looks set to miss the World Cup because FIFA has denied him permission to use an asthma inhaler that contains the banned substance salbutamol.

The England team's medical staff asked world governing body FIFA's medical committee to allow Scholes to use the inhaler - which he has been using for years to overcome his chronic asthma condition - and provided reams of documents backing up their request. In the meantime, however, FIFA has not been convinced by the England team's arguments, and is still insisting that there is no medical justification for granting the player permission.

England officials assumed that a simple letter to FIFA - written by either the team doctor or a specialist - explaining Scholes' situation would be enough. They were stunned when they learned that it was not, and now Scholes could face a FIFA ban.

Sources in the England team are reported to be furious with Scholes' club Manchester United. They say it concealed information about the player's condition and did not provide the team's doctors with detailed reports.