England could opt for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead Stewart Downing against France
ALEX Oxlade-Chamberlain could make his first competitive start for England in tonight’s opening Euro 2012 Group D match against France.
Roy Hodgson delayed informing the players of his starting line-up until today – so far he has named his team to the squad on the evening before the match – and is toying with starting with the Arsenal teenager ahead of Stewart Downing.
Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first start for England in last weekend’s friendly against Belgium having played a handful of minutes in the match away to Norway the previous weekend.
The 18-year-old has made a strong impression since breaking into the England squad although it has been thought that Hodgson would go for Downing who is a more experienced and cautious choice against the group favourites here in Donetsk.
Nevertheless Downing has not been in the best of form despite being recalled to the squad by the new manager after a disappointing season with Liverpool.
Hodgson is likely to opt for James Milner on the right-hand side of his midfield, although he has been suffering from a blistered heal. In the centre Scott Parker will partner captain Steven Gerrard. Further forward and Danny Welbeck is still expected to play as Ashley Young’s strike partner, ahead of Andy Carroll. In defence it is thought that Joleon Lescott will partner John Terry.
The selection of Oxlade-Chamberlain would still represent a bold move by Hodgson who was preparing to inform the squad of the team ahead of their departure from their hotel to the Donbass Arena.