Belfast Telegraph

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could now miss World Cup

By Robert Jones

England manager Roy Hodgson last night admitted he is concerned about the fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – just nine days before their first World Cup match against Italy in Manaus.

Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered an injury scare during the 2-2 draw with Ecuador in Miami last night when Carlos Gruezo kicked the bottom of the Arsenal star's right foot and then, while rolling over exaggeratedly, landed on the back of the midfielder's leg.

Afterwards, Hodgson said: "Oxlade-Chamberlain is the one that bothers. His knee buckled under the the challenge as the player turned into him.

"He'll have a scan tomorrow, I'd imagine. When we've had the scan, we'll know more."

England's first game in Group D is against Italy in Manaus on June 14 – but Hodgson eased fears about Jack Wilshere and Luke Shaw, who also went off.

Hodgson explained: "It was cramp. We took them off for those reasons alone."

Raheem Sterling and Antonio Valencia were dismissed in the second half after the Manchester United winger reacted to a challenge by his Liverpool counterpart.

Hodgson continued: "I'm disappointed. I thought it was a fierce challenge from young Raheem, not a foul challenge. He played the ball and accelerated into the ball.

"I'm disappointed with Antonio's reaction, grabbing the player. Had he not jumped up there wouldn't have been a problem but, when he does that, the referee had to deal with that and sent Raheem off.

"I'm pleased Raheem didn't react to a lot of people milling around him.

"Jack had been on the receiving end minutes earlier from a very similar challenge from an Ecuadorian player and did not react."

Hodgson added: "I thought Wayne Rooney played very, very well and I think Ross Barkley had some good moments.

"I think he needs to learn when he can turn with the ball and when he has to keep the ball. But that's quite normal for a player his age. He'll be quite happy to have played so long on his first start.

"I thought it was a very good game. I was disappointed with the sendings off, and the potential injury to one of our players – but as a friendly, a warm-up match for our players, it was good.

"They tested us but we dealt with them very well for long periods, and caused their defence many problems. We could have been several goals up before they scored their goal.

"If the players cope with things as well as these players on Saturday (against Honduras), we'll go to Brazil very confident."

Asked whether Barkley would be among the starters against Italy, Hodgson added: "There always seems to be an enormous obsession with one player.

"I will be prepared to start any of the players in any game.

"Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones were outstanding, as was Jack Wilshere, while Rickie Lambert scored a magnificent goal."

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