Hodgson unhappy over 'reckless at best' challenge that put Walcott in hospital


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The Independent Football

Roy Hodgson, the England manager, condemned the challenge from San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini which left Theo Walcott in hospital overnight.

"If I described it as reckless I'd be kind," Hodgson said after last night's 5-0 victory at Wembley. Walcott went off with a suspected broken rib – the "one negative" of the night – after just 10 minutes.

"It was a fierce challenge. I don't believe there was any malice, but it's put Theo Walcott in hospital. We have to wait to find out the extent of his injury. If your goalkeeper does that, you're lucky to have your goalkeeper on the field and not concede a penalty."

Walcott's participation in Warsaw on Tuesday night is now seriously in doubt. "He'll be in hospital overnight for a scan," Hodgson said." It's a chest injury. Until they've X-rayed it and scanned it, we won't know. It put a dampener on the evening, but there were positives."

Hodgson was pleased with how England deal with a uniquely defensive opposition. "I think it adds a new meaning to 'attack v defence'," he said. "It is never easy when there are 10 players in the penalty area but I was very pleased. They didn't have one strike at goal. It was a good result, a very satisfying week's work."

The England manager was delighted with the contribution of the Manchester United players, as Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck scored twice each, and Tom Cleverley also impressed. Rooney's goals took him to 31 for England, making him the fifth highest scorer.

"It is a great achievement," Hodgson said. "He's 26. He's still got a lot of years of football left in him. If he continues playing in the way he did – all the United players played with enormous confidence, the inter-passing was excellent and they were responsible for four of the five goals. I liked what he did as captain."

Rooney said how much he enjoyed the evening. "To be in the top five goalscorers is something I'm extremely proud of," he said. "Hopefully there are many more."

Wearing the armband was also an honour for Rooney. "Obviously it was great to captain my country at Wembley," he said. "It is a great feeling and a great honour and something I will treasure for the rest of my life." It was a big difference leading a side out. Normally I have been stood behind a player but to lead the team up and look up and see the crowd and hear the atmosphere is quite a feeling and something I am honoured to do."

Rooney, who swapped shorts as well as shirt with the opposition afterwards, would like to do the job again in the future. "Of course, it gives you a taste for it for further along in my career. As a player, you want to do it. If you get an opportunity to captain your country, as a player it is something you need to grab with both hands."

Steven Gerrard will return as captain on Tuesday, while Frank Lampard hopes to shake off an injury which put him out of last night's match. Joleon Lescott, Jermain Defoe and Ashley Cole, all on the bench last night, will be in contention, while Glen Johnson returns from suspension. "I'm looking forward to seeing Steven Gerrard being back in the team on Tuesday," Hodgson said. "We still have some hope that Frank Lampard's injury is not that serious and has an opportunity to join us there. We'll go to Poland with a good, strong squad who will be fresh for not playing today. The one negative is Theo, which was a bad injury."

John Terry will delay his decision on whether to appeal against the guilty verdict on Football Association charges of racial abuse until next week, after the game against Poland. The Chelsea captain, who was given a four-match ban and a £220,000 fine, has until Thursday to make a decision.

Owen dives in

Michael Owen wasted little time last night in claiming that the penalty earned by Danny Welbeck supported his comments this week about "winning" them.

"Could Welbeck of stayed on his feet?" he tweeted. "Yes. Should he if someone wants to throw himself in front of him? No Does that mean it was a dive? No."