England boss mulls calling replacement for injured Ox

ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson was last night sweating on the fitness of midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with scans on a knee injury showing medial ligament damage.

The Arsenal star limped off during the second half of Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Ecuador in their penultimate friendly before the World Cup kicks off next week.

The early prognosis suggests Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered a strain as opposed to a tear and therefore faces a matter of weeks, rather than months, on the sidelines.

But with only eight days to go until England’s Group D opener against Italy in Manaus, manager Roy Hodgson is still pondering whether or not Oxlade-Chamberlain should be sent home and replaced in his 23-man squad.

“It’s too early to make any decisions about what happens next, we have to wait and see,” said Hodgson, who is free to call up a replacement until 13 June.

“In the meantime Alex is having regular assessment and treatment. The England medical team is in direct dialogue with their Arsenal counterparts and we obviously are all hoping for the best.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain has won 15 England caps and never finished on the losing side, scoring three goals including a memorable strike in the reopening of the iconic Maracana Stadium in Brazil during a 2-2 draw 12 months ago.

The 20-year-old missed the first half of Arsenal’s season with a knee injury and the final month of the campaign, including the FA Cup final, with a groin problem.

However, he is desperate not to be defeated by the latest setback.

Oxlade-Chamberlain wrote on Twitter: “Gutted to have picked up an injury. I’m staying positive and getting to work with the medical team on recovery. Fingers crossed!”

Should England decide to call up a replacement, Hodgson may opt to pick defenders John Stones or Jon Flanagan as opposed to a midfielder, with the pair currently training with the squad in Miami.

THE STANDBYS

John Ruddy (Norwich)
John Stones (Everton)
Jon Flanagan (Liverpool)
Tom Cleverley (Manchester United)
Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Andy Carroll (West Ham)
Jermain Defoe (Toronto)