Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Euro 2012: England game-changer Walcott a doubt for Ukraine game

England's Theo Walcott leaves the team hotel for a training session, in Krakow, Poland

Roy Hodgson revealed last night that his game-changing substitute Theo Walcott is a doubt for tomorrow's final Euro 2012 group match against Ukraine with a recurrence of the hamstring injury that plagued the Arsenal winger last season.







Walcott, who scored the equaliser against Sweden on Friday, before creating the winner for Danny Welbeck, limped out of training yesterday and the team's medical department will have a clearer idea today of whether he is fit to face Ukraine. He was by no means guaranteed to start but is now established as Hodgson's first-choice impact substitute.



Walcott missed three weeks at the end of the season for Arsenal with the hamstring problem. The England manager told BBC Five Live: "Unfortunately he [Walcott] had a slight set-back in training today, and that's the major concern for us. He felt the hamstring that kept him out for so long at the end of last season and which we were slightly concerned about when he joined up with us.



"We took the precaution of taking him from the field because he felt a slight tightness there. Whether he can start or not will depend upon what the medical people will tell me, and I need to check that if I do start him he won't be leaving the field after just five minutes and leave us with the 13 men rather than the 14 I'd count on."



John Terry is expected to be fit for tomorrow's game despite his own hamstring problems, but Andrei Shevchenko is an injury doubt for Ukraine.



Wayne Rooney, available again after a two-match ban, said yesterday that the organisational strengths of the England team meant they could still win Euro 2012 despite potentially having to face Spain in the next round.



Rooney, who Hodgson has said will come straight back into the side tomorrow, said that the team had "always believed" they had a chance. He said: "Before the tournament started I said a country like ours needs to be in there with a shout of winning major tournaments and I firmly believe that.



"I've said before I think we're good enough. We've got the players to [win]. I know obviously everyone doesn't want us to build expectations up, but I firmly believe that we've got the players. Obviously you need a bit of luck as well, but I believe we've got a good opportunity.



Rooney said that the team was "more organised" than at any time since he made his debut in 2003. "If we keep doing that and keep working hard then there's no reason we can't go really far and be in with a shout of winning it.



"You have to play the best teams if you want to win tournaments and how much of a boost would it be for us if we did play them [Spain] and beat them. How much confidence would that give us? You have to play those teams to win tournaments whether it's quarter-finals, semis or final, we have to just cope with that."



England will fly to Ukraine from their Krakow base today for the third time in nine days but they have been told by Uefa that neither they nor the Ukraine team will be able to train on the Donbass Arena pitch tonight because it is still drying out from torrential rain.



The Football Association will oppose a charge by Uefa that England supporters tried to invade the pitch during the match against Sweden due to be heard on Wednesday. The FA is frustrated that fans from outside their own official supporters group were sold tickets in the same area of the stadium in Kiev.

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