Roy Hodgson hamstrung by lack of fit England strikers

 

The England manager Roy Hodgson faces a shortage of fit strikers for his friendly against Scotland next week, with Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll officially injured and Daniel Sturridge only recently returned to first-team training with Liverpool.

The game at Wembley against Scotland – the first time the two countries have met at senior level since the Euro 2000 play-off in November 1999 – is also the last time that Fifa will sanction August pre-season international friendlies. Yet with a crucial run of four World Cup qualifiers in September and October, Hodgson will have to pick a strong side.

The question of Rooney's suitability is an awkward one with the striker at loggerheads with United over his future and out of last night's pre-season friendly in Stockholm. If he is not selected in Sunday's Community Shield match against Wigan Athletic it is difficult for Hodgson to make a case to pick him against Scotland.

The England manager names his squad at Wembley tomorrow and his most likely approach is to pick Rooney and see how the following three days pan out. David Moyes, the Manchester United manager, said the injury was "not too serious". Moyes may, in public at least, welcome the England game as a chance for Rooney to regain fitness.

Beyond him, Hodgson does not have many options. Sturridge could play against Celtic in Dublin on Saturday. Again he is likely to be selected by Hodgson in the hope he is fit enough to play next week. Defoe injured a hamstring against Monaco at the weekend; Carroll is recovering from his heel injury.

The FA has appointed Dave Reddin as its head of performance services at St George's Park to oversee sports science, medical departments and analysis. Reddin was a member of Sir Clive Woodward's staff when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003.

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