England dilemma over injured Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade'Chamberlain has been ruled out of England's opening game against Italy. Picture: Getty
Alex Oxlade'Chamberlain has been ruled out of England's opening game against Italy. Picture: Getty
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England will monitor Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain over the next few days before deciding whether his knee ligament injury will rule him out of the World Cup.

Oxlade-Chamberlain fell awkwardly after a clumsy challenge by Carlos Gruezo in England’s 2-2 draw against Ecuador at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Wednesday night. Scans taken yesterday showed the extent of the damage, which looks not to be as bad as first feared.

“Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a medial knee ligament injury during the game against Ecuador,” an FA statement read.

“The England medical team are continuing to monitor and treat the injury.”

Reports suggest Oxlade-Chamberlain has only suffered a ligament strain, rather than a tear. If that is the case then he can expect to be out for two to three weeks.

That would rule Oxlade-Chamberlain out of England’s first Group D match against Italy on 14 June, but he could make the second fixture against Uruguay in Sao Paulo five days later.

England manager Roy Hodgson will not make a snap judgement on whether he wants to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain. Hodgson is willing to give the player time to prove his fitness and see how he reacts to his rehabilitation programme in Miami, where England play Honduras tomorrow in their final warm-up game.

Plus, under FIFA rules, Hodgson has until 13 June – 24 hours before England play Italy – to make any changes to his squad.

Oxlade-Chamberlain joined his team-mates for a recovery session at the squad’s base at Barry University in Florida yesterday, although he was wearing a leg brace. The former Southampton midfielder was able to walk relatively freely on his right leg, which buckled under the pressure of Gruezo’s foul in the 63rd minute.

Before the injury, Oxlade-Chamberlain looked to have greatly improved his chances of lining up against the Italians in Manaus on 14 June. Starting his first game since 20 April, Oxlade-Chamberlain made a series of surging runs and clever passes in the sticky Florida heat.

Hodgson has several options at his disposal should he decide to drop Oxlade-Chamberlain. Manchester United midfielders Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley are on England’s standby list, but they have not spent a minute with the squad this summer. Carrick has been on holiday in Ibiza while Cleverley was 
pictured at the races with his girlfriend on Wednesday.

Unlike Carrick and Cleverley, John Stones and Jon Flanagan have been with the squad ever since Hodgson announced his World Cup squad. The defenders were brought along to Portugal and Miami as cover for Phil Jones, who suffered a shoulder injury in the final week of the domestic season.

Both players can operate at right-back, which would allow James Milner, who filled in there on Wednesday, to concentrate on playing in his normal midfield role.

Hodgson received some good news on Thursday when Fifa confirmed Raheem Sterling will be available for the Italy game as he will serve his one-match 
suspension against Honduras.