England injury update: Rooney ruled out, Spurs duo recalled
When it rains, it pours. Roy Hodgson will be thankful England have already secured safe passage to the France finals, as the Three Lions could lose key players for upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania.
Everton defender John Stones was the first to fall, withdrawing from the squad following a knee injury, while skipper Wayne Rooney is also out with an ankle problem. Swansea City schemer Jonjo Shelvey and new call-up Danny Ings are also doubtful.
A statement from the FA simply read: “They [Rooney, Shelvey, Ings] will be monitored ahead of Friday’s meeting with the Estonians.” Though, none of the top trio trained with the rest of the squad on Wednesday at St George’s Park, so could well miss out on the Wembley run-out, with returns potentially pencilled-in for Lithuania away on Monday.
As a precaution, Tottenham duo Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker have been drafted in, with the latter right back clear defensive cover for versatile Stones, while his attacking club teammate is an adaptable option and pacey outlet on the wing.
The Three Lions (11/1 with Coral to win Euro 2016) have suffered a shortage of strikers of late, and will be hoping to finally have a full haul of fit forwards for France in summer.
Currently, Liverpool dangerman Daniel Sturridge is only just getting to grips with domestic duties again after a long lay-off, while Arsenal attacker Danny Welbeck, previously leading scorer for England in qualifying, is still sidelined.
So, should Ings join Rooney in being removed from the roster, young-gun Harry Kane and plucky underdog Jamie Vardy would be the next most recognised for the role. Though Theo Walcott’s recent fluid and formidable performances up top for Arsenal will most likely see him handed a chance to start and convince centrally, with the forward 7/2 to fire home first.
Sir Bobby Charlton, who Rooney has now surpassed to top the goal charts, is poised to present the Golden Boot on Friday, but the skipper will be watching the rest of the game from the stands.
Meanwhile, late call Townsend will have much to prove if given the nod by Hodgson, having fallen down the pecking order just four games after his wonder strike secured England a draw against Italy.
“As soon as the goal went in, I was thinking of all the people questioning my call-ups and saying I should be nowhere near the England squad. Hopefully, that will keep them quiet,” stated Townsend of the goal, though the Spurs speedster will need to contribute stardust regularly if he is to stay on the Three Lions’ fringes.
Many predicted Aston Villa playmaking prodigy Jack Grealish, who recently declared his English allegiance, would be the one to benefit from any drop outs, but Hodgson clearly sees potential worth persevering with in Townsend. Watch this space.