Joleon Lescott was recalled to the England squad tonight just three days after being left out of Roy Hodgson’s original 26-man squad when Michael Dawson withdrew with a hamstring injury.
Aaron Lennon, Dawson’s Tottenham team-mate, also pulled out with injury, having not featured in the club’s 1-0 home defeat to Fulham. That aside, Hodgson’s squad, now 25-strong, who meet up at St George’s Park tomorrow evening, came through relatively unscathed from the weekend’s fixtures.
Lescott was left out the original squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro next week because Hodgson felt that the defender had played “too little football”. He has slipped out of contention dramatically at Manchester City under Roberto Mancini and is expected to leave in the summer.
Dawson was substituted at half-time at White Hart Lane after feeling a hamstring strain. “He felt his muscle going in the first half. If we had brought him on in the second half we would have been risking a major injury,” said Villas-Boas.
“I think Michael will be assessed by the England team doctors, they will be in communication with our medical department to find out if he will make it or not. He probably won’t, but it’s something that they have to decide between them.”
On Lennon, Villas Boas added: “We had to be much more sensible because he won’t be able to make it. He’s been struggling with injuries. We risked him against Inter Milan and he is on the brink of rupturing his muscle so we have decided to take him out of this game. He has groin and hamstring injuries.”
Manchester United have indicated that Ashley Young will be passed fit to join up with England this evening after taking a kick to his ankle in Saturday’s win over Reading.
That makes a total of seven United players in England’s squad, including Rio Ferdinand, who Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed on Saturday would join up with training.
Hodgson left a voicemail with the 34-year-old defender on Friday night assuring him that he would receive the highest standards of medical care during his time with the squad and would not be forced to play in either of the World Cup qualifiers if he was not passed fit.
Hodgson, meanwhile, has said Wayne Rooney will be well aware of the pressures on him in Podgorica a week tomorrow, playing the same opposition against whom he was sent off during the Euro 2012 qualifier in October 2011.
Asked by the BBC if provocation could be a factor, Hodgson said: “You might be right, but they are the things players need to come to terms with. Wayne doesn’t seem to have been affected by opponents in any game that we have played so far. His disciplinary record is good with us and he has not let me down. I’ve got no reason to doubt him.
“Wayne made a mistake, he has held his hand up and admitted it was a mistake. He paid a high price for it because he missed two Euro 2012 games. He won’t need me to remind him because it will be fresh in his memory because you don’t forget being sent off.”
Ferguson said on Saturday that the club would lay on private jets to bring back their internationals from friendly matches, including for Shinji Kagawa, who plays for Japan in Qatar and Jordan this month, and Javier Hernandez, who will represent Mexico in Honduras and at home in Mexico City. “They are going to cost the club an awful lot of money but it’s something we feel we must do,” Ferguson said.