Roy Hodgson fears Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kyle Walker is likely to miss the World Cup finals along with his team-mate Andros Townsend, the latest injury blow in a series of concerns for the England manager.
Jack Wilshere and Phil Jagielka are yet to prove their fitness after long lay-offs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana are also carrying injuries. As it stands, Hodgson said that he expects those four to be in the squad but he has conceded that he is concerned over Walker on the day that Spurs announced that Townsend requires surgery on his ankle and will miss the tournament.
Walker last played in Spurs’ home defeat to Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League tie on 13 March and came off after 76 minutes. His pelvic injury has been treated with painkilling injections but the Football Association’s medical staff have accepted that he is by no means a certainty to be in Hodgson’s squad, announced on 12 May.
Hodgson said: “We are still monitoring the situation with Kyle. We haven’t been told for certain that he will be out for the next six to ten weeks but we are concerned that it has been a long time out and during that time he has not been able to do any training with the rest of the team as far as I know. I know he has had another injection. We are waiting to find out on the back of that.”
Spurs announced that Townsend will have surgery tomorrow on his left ankle that he injured against Stoke City on Saturday. The club said that the damaged ligaments would ordinarily take around ten weeks to heal.
Hodgson said: “To see him [Townsend] ruled out like this with a serious ankle injury - that is a cruel blow. My thoughts are very much with him and the only thing I can say is the classic, ‘he is young’. There will be lots of other opportunities but I am sure that won’t make him feel better at the moment because his chance to get into the squad has been taken away from him.”
Hodgson said that he had been told by Arsene Wenger that Wilshere was training but that Arsenal were “holding him back” for now. On Oxlade-Chamberlain’s groin problem he said that was not an immediate concern to him. He was equally confident about Jagielka, who has not played since 22 February – saying, “we don’t have any fears”.
Having previously said that he would not take injured players in the squad when England embark for their pre-World Cup camp in Miami on 1 May, Hodgson said that he now has to amend his plans. “If Steven Gerrard gets injured in the next game and they tell me he is going to be out for three weeks, I would still take him,” he said.
“I am not prepared to have a 100 per cent rule that either you play in the last game of the season and are 100 per cent, or you don’t go. I want to know that in Wilshere’s case he is training with the others and while he is not being thrown back into the fray he is there. When it comes to Oxlade-Chamberlain, he just needs a couple of weeks’ rest.”
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