Roy Hodgson set to start with Theo Walcott but Andy Carroll left out

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Winger's sparkling display against Swedes wins call-up as Rooney returns for Ukraine

Donetsk

Roy Hodgson was last night considering unleashing Theo Walcott upon Ukraine in England's decisive final Euro 2012 group game tonight after the Arsenal winger was passed fit following an injury scare earlier in the week.

The England manager is eager that he does not rely upon the same starting XI in every game, especially if the team have to play Spain in the quarter-finals this weekend in the energy-sapping temperatures of a Ukrainian summer. The nature of the pressing, defensive style England would be forced to play should they face the defending champions would, Hodgson believes, necessitate some fresh players.

With that in mind he is toying with the idea of tonight resting James Milner, who has started both games against France and Sweden and replacing him with Walcott who came on to such effect in the win over the Swedes. Against Ukraine, Andy Carroll will make way for Wayne Rooney, returning from his two-game suspension tonight, who starts in attack alongside Danny Welbeck.

While Hodgson is not expected to name his team until this morning, the Walcott option is a real possibility. He missed training with a problem in his hamstring and calf on Sunday but took part in the session yesterday before England flew from their base in Krakow to Donetsk. It would be Walcott's first start for England in a tournament game.

The Ukraine manager Oleg Blokhin has his own selection concerns over striker Andrei Shevchenko who he rated as only "50-50" to start tonight's game given his knee problem. Blokhin lost his cool when questioned at length about Shevchenko's fitness last night at a press conference at the Donbass Arena. "I don't look good in front of my players if I talk only about Shevchenko, his career and his private life," he said. "I have 22 other players."

England only need a draw to progress to the quarter-finals as the second-placed team in Group D which would require them to come back to Donetsk for a quarter-final on Saturday. If they win, and France only manage to draw against Sweden, England will finish top of the group. England have to better France's result should the French also beat Sweden in order to finish top of the group. The winners of the group qualify for Sunday's quarter-final in Kiev.

There remains the possibility that places in the group between France and England could be decided by Uefa co-efficient, if the two teams cannot be separated on goal difference and goals scored. England have the superior co-efficient, which is calculated by Uefa on results stretching back over a period of four years. There is even a scenario in which England could qualify even if they lose – providing France lose too.

That was not a scenario on Hodgson's mind last night when he accepted that the 3-2 victory over Sweden had raised expectations among England supporters who had gone into the tournament expecting little from their team.

"You play football, at international level, to try and get people carried away," Hodgson said. "Dreaming is what this is all about. Expectations are what international football is all about.

"We've got to be happy that people believe we can go a bit further than people thought when we started the competition. That's not to say we can fulfil those ambitions. I know the team has belief in itself.

"We're talking about individual cup finals. Things can happen that you can't control. We've seen some very good teams go out of this competition already. We've got a chance, but guarantees do not exist."

Hodgson said that Rooney was aware of his responsibilities coming back into the side.

"It won't just be me making that point: Steve [Gerrard, the captain] and the other players will be keen to remind him that what we require is a good team performance. We want him to make us a better team and help us win the game of football.

"I've been impressed with him in training, talking to some of the young players, and playing a major part. He knows how important the occasion is for himself and for his team-mates."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game