World Cup 2014: Oxlade-Chamberlain still a major doubt for Italy clash

England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) has to be substituted off the pitch due to injury during the Friendly at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, USA. PIC: PA
England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) has to be substituted off the pitch due to injury during the Friendly at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, USA. PIC: PA
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s participation in England’s World Cup opener against Italy looks to be in doubt after the player underwent scans on the knee injury he suffered against Ecuador.

Oxlade-Chamberlain fell awkwardly after a clumsy challenge by Carlos Gruezo in England’s 2-2 draw at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Wednesday night.

The Arsenal winger went for a scan yesterday and initial reports suggest he will be out for two to three weeks because of a ligament strain.

If Oxlade-Chamberlain returned to training within a fortnight, he could potentially return for England’s second Group D match against Uruguay in Sao Paulo on June 19.

But the 20-year-old’s chances of playing in England’s first Group D match against the Italians in Manaus five days earlier look remote.

Oxlade-Chamberlain hobbled out of the Sun Life Stadium without the aid of crutches.

The former Southampton player emerged from England’s team hotel in Florida wearing a knee brace yesterday morning though.

Roy Hodgson must now decide whether it is worth taking Oxlade-Chamberlain to Brazil despite his injury.

The England manager was impressed with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance against the South Americans before he came off in the 63rd minute.

Starting his first game since April 20, Oxlade-Chamberlain made a series of surging runs and clever passes in the sticky Florida heat.

After the match, Hodgson said he hoped the player would be fit to board the plane to Brazil on Saturday night.

The England manager said: “He was excellent. He was back really to his best so all I can do now I suppose is cross my fingers and touch every piece of wood I pass by that it is not serious.”

Hodgson does not know whether Gruezo aimed to hurt Oxlade-Chamberlain in retaliation for a kick on the Ecuador player by the Arsenal man moments earlier.

“He (Gruezo) stumbles into (Oxlade-Chamberlain) but whether he meant it or not only the Ecuadorian knows,” Hodgson added.

Hodgson has several options at his disposal should he decide to leave Oxlade-Chamberlain out. 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 defensive duo 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.

But 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.

Jones and Chris Smalling, playing together for the first time for England, looked vulnerable to the pace and power of the Ecuadorians on Wednesday, but Hodgson was happy with their efforts.

“The two centre-backs did extremely well,” the former Liverpool manager said.

“You always will struggle in moments against teams like Ecuador with their pace and technique but we created a large number of opportunities where we were attacking. What we have to make certain is that we shore up a little bit better behind some of these attacking movements and make certain it doesn’t go directly against our back four.”

Paul Heckingbottom.

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