Theo Walcott calms fears over missing England stars after Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge absent from training

Arsenal forward is hopeful his national team-mates will recover in time to face Moldova on Friday but admits any youngster could provide more than adequate cover for regulars

Theo Walcott was not overly concerned by the absences from training this morning of Daniel Sturridge and Jack Wilshere ahead of England's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.

Sturridge was carrying a thigh injury during Liverpool's victory over Manchester United and has been given extra time to get back to full fitness.

Wilshere went off in the first half of Arsenal's win against Tottenham at the weekend with stomach cramps and he has also been afforded more time to try to recover.

Both players remain with the squad at St George's Park, though, and the hope is they will be fit for Friday's qualifier against Moldova and the crucial game in Ukraine four days later.

Arsenal forward Walcott was optimistic the pair will be ready for Friday and in a press conference: "He (Sturridge) is here - that is the positive.

"Hopefully Dan can get over the knock.

"He played with it (on Sunday) I think so fingers crossed he will be okay for Friday and Tuesday."

Of his Gunners team-mate Wilshere, Walcott added: "He's had an illness so he needs an extra couple of days to recover.

"I am sure he will be fine, hopefully."

As for any potential replacements, the 24-year-old added: "The manager knows the players to pick for these games.

"I am always there if the manager needs a different option. We have Rickie (Lambert) and Danny (Welbeck) there.

"We have some good attacking threat and we'll be fine."

Boss Roy Hodgson included Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling in the squad.

Townsend is the oldest of the trio at 22 and Walcott believes there are opportunities for the newcomers to stake their claim.

He said: "It's a great opportunity for youngsters coming into the squad - that they are going to take their chance.

"I came in at such a young age and I got a hat-trick against Croatia - anyone can do that against Moldova and Ukraine.

"There are chances there to be taken. It's only going to be positive when you see these youngsters coming through.

"It is important to get to know the players and staff and the set up here, it helps you when you go to tournaments. It helped me when I went to the 2006 World Cup.

"I didn't feature but I knew what to expect at the next tournament which sadly didn't happen.

"You want to see the best young talents come through very early and they will only improve."

Walcott has been an impressive performer for Arsenal so far and added: "I am enjoying my football at the moment, it's nice I am getting 90 minutes every game now.

"To come into this England set up and feel like one of the older ones is quite surreal, it is very exciting - the balance we have on this team is very fresh.

Having beaten Moldova 5-0 the last time the teams met, England will be expected to pick up three points ahead of next week's visit to Ukraine.

(L-R) Raheem Sterlin, Ross Barkley, Kyle Walker, Phil Jagielka and Theo Walcott train at England's St George's Park training base (L-R) Raheem Sterlin, Ross Barkley, Kyle Walker, Phil Jagielka and Theo Walcott train at England's St George's Park training base  

 

While preferring not to look too far ahead, Walcott admitted Ukraine was "the big one".

He said: "We are very professional, we know the task ahead and we have to treat Moldova with respect. "Ukraine is the big one.

"I like to look at games coming up. Hopefully we can have a good performance and not pick up any injuries going into Tuesday's match."

Manchester City midfielder James Milner, meanwhile, warned his England team-mates not to expect a walkover at Wembley despite last September's comprehensive 5-0 victory in Moldova.

"It was a good performance out there in Moldova, we managed to get on top early so hopefully we can do that on Friday," he said.

"We have a tough game on Friday first, but when we go out to Ukraine there will be a great atmosphere.

"We have four games left and it's in our hands. It's down to us to perform in them and finish the job."

Milner, who did not make his full England debut until he was 23, is especially keen to see Young Lions Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling in action.

Everton midfielder Barkley is included for the first time while Liverpool winger Sterling could earn his second senior cap after featuring in a friendly defeat to Sweden in November.

"It's pleasing that we have some young players form the under-21s stepping up. It shows there is the quality there," Milner added.

"It's a really good time to be in the England squad, we have a good mix of younger and older players.

"It doesn't take too much motivation to play for your country. Everyone is desperate to do their best for the Three Lions."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms