Roy Hodgson has been left to sweat over the fitness of Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck, and it’s thought that the player could be ruled out contention for a place in the England squad to face Italy on Saturday.
The Independent reports how Welbeck was forced to leave a training session early with a thigh injury, and will now give Hodgson a headache in the build up to the fixture against the Italians in Manaus in three days time. The 23-year-old has been playing recently with his right-thigh strapped up, and the England boss is sure to opt for someone else if he is left in any doubt as to whether or not Welbeck can last the full ninety on Saturday if required.
With Hodgson having included the United striker as a regular feature in his lineups since taking charge in 2012, one would assume that he would be inclined to do so again were there no problems. However the clash against Italy will be the first chance England players will be given to experience the potentially soaring heat of Brazil in a competitive fixture, and with both sides looking to start well, it won’t be an encounter for those carrying niggles.
News of injury is likely to be met with a mixed response from fans of the Three Lions, as there were some quarters who contested Welbeck’s claim to a place in the 23-man squad for Brazil to begin with. The budding forward managed to fend off competition from the likes of Adam Johnson and Jermain Defoe to ensure his participation in this summer’s tournament, but it did come off the back of a largely disappointing season at club level. Welbeck was amongst the players who toiled to little avail at Old Trafford last term, and the fact that he managed to find the back of the net ten times is largely overshadowed by transfer speculation linking him with a possible exit.
Of course the injury may not damage Hodgson’s plans too much, as there has yet to be any clarification that the United ace would have started had he not suffered the aforementioned complaint. The roles in the final third of the pitch may well be the most difficult for England’s manager to delegate, and with Wayne Rooney having featured on the left against Ecuador, Welbeck’s starting berth is far from secure. Then of course there’s young Raheem Sterling, Southampton captain Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge to consider, who have all occupied a similar position before at one time or another during their careers.