Friday 23 March 2018

Hodgson forced to take Welbeck risk

Steve Tongue in Oslo

Roy Hodgson last night admitted that taking Danny Welbeck to the European Championship as part of a depleted strike force could be a gamble but said he had to trust medical staff who say the Manchester United forward will be fit.

Welbeck is not able to play against Norway today because of an injury sustained at the end of the domestic season and he is unlikely to be 100pc by the time of Uefa's deadline for squads to be named at midday on Tuesday.

New England manager Hodgson, coming to terms with the sort of problems all his 12 predecessors have faced -- Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy withdrew yesterday with a broken finger -- nevertheless wants to give Welbeck every chance to take part in the tournament -- not least because Wayne Rooney will miss the first two group matches.

"I thought Danny would be fit to join in when he came," Hodgson said yesterday. "It now appears he might not be fit to train on Tuesday either. But the doctor's very confident he will be fit when we get on the plane for Poland.

"I'll make allowances for that and as long as he gives me guarantees he wants to play, I'll take him. You employ doctors, physios and experts and you value their opinions. When the opinion is 'don't worry, he'll be fit and okay', sometimes you have to accept that. There's an element of risk involved, but we don't have other alternatives of the Welbeck type up front."

By that he means that Welbeck is "a centre-forward type" and that the only similar player in the squad is Andy Carroll. Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge is the official standby striker and would come into the party if Welbeck's ankle does not improve.

He will be assessed again on Monday, as will Glen Johnson, the only regular right-back in the squad, whose toe injury came as a shock to Hodgson. "That took me by surprise," he said. "I thought he'd turn up fully fit and didn't know he'd been playing with an injection because of a toe infection."

The better news was of Tottenham's Scott Parker, who starts alongside Steven Gerrard in central midfield tonight after making good progress.

But the uncapped Ruddy will miss his first international tournament after breaking the finger on which his wedding ring is due to be placed next Saturday, when he had been excused from England's friendly against Belgium. He has travelled to Norway to watch today's friendly but it is Birmingham City teenager Jack Butland who will be on parade as one of England's three 'keepers with Robert Green and Joe Hart.

As ever, one man's injury is another's opportunity, so Butland steps into the breach, fresh from facing Barnet, Rotherham and Accrington in his most recent matches for Cheltenham Town on loan from Birmingham, for whom he has not played a senior game. (© Independent News Service)

Norway v England,

Live, UTV, 7.0

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport