Walcott a concern for Hodgson
20:50, 17 Jun 2012
Theo Walcott has given Roy Hodgson an unwanted injury scare by limping out of training ahead of England's qualification showdown with Ukraine on Tuesday.
It was thought Hodgson was considering whether to hand Walcott a starting berth in Donetsk following his eye-catching contribution to the win over Sweden.
Now it seems Walcott may not be involved at all after complaining of a "tight hamstring" that forced his withdrawal from today's closed doors training session in Krakow.
The Arsenal winger missed two games at the end of the season after suffering a similar problem and Hodgson is now waiting on the assessment of his medical team before he knows whether Walcott could play some part against the co-hosts.
"He has a slight setback," Hodgson told BBC Radio Five Live.
"We had to take the precaution of taking him from the field because he felt some tightness in the hamstring that kept him out for so long at the end of the season.
"Whether he is a real contender for a starting position will depend upon what the medical people can tell me and how much guarantee they can give me that if I do start him he won't be leaving the field after five minutes."
Hodgson confirmed it was "a major concern".
However, the indications were Walcott would not have started against Ukraine anyway despite his sparkling display on Friday, when he scored his first international goal for four years before setting up Danny Welbeck's excellent winner in the 3-2 victory over Sweden.
One man who definitely will be involved is Wayne Rooney.
Even though Welbeck was joined on the scoresheet by strike partner Andy Carroll in Kiev, Hodgson stated immediately after the game that Rooney would return now he has completed his two-match ban.
Under such circumstances, it is hardly a surprise that Rooney, who will be winning his 75th cap, is under consideration to be Steven Gerrard's deputy as England captain.
"We haven't designated a vice-captain yet," said Hodgson.
"Quite frankly, with him not being available we haven't really felt the necessity before now to decide on that.
"But we are very much considering him for that position, yes."
With John Terry out of the running, the only other candidate in terms of pure experience would be Ashley Cole.
However, the Chelsea full-back is notoriously reluctant to speak with the media, one of the more obvious public tasks that accompany the captain's armband.
Yet that reticence should not mean Cole is ignored, believes Hodgson.
After all, when he runs out to face Ukraine, he will be making his 21st tournament appearance for England, a new record eclipsing the one jointly held by David Beckham and Peter Shilton.
"He misses very few games, either for his national team or club team, and always plays to a very high level," said Hodgson.
"It is great to hear that he has this record to beat when he plays against the Ukraine. I am delighted for him.
"It would be wrong to take him for granted. We are very much aware of his qualities and how much we need him down that left side.
"Because he is a quiet man, maybe for a lot of people he does slip under the radar.
"I know he is most comfortable when he lets his football do the talking."
England's plans for Tuesday's game have had to be changed due to the violent thunderstorms that almost caused France's game against Ukraine to be abandoned on Friday.
Although the game was eventually completed after an hour's delay, UEFA want to protect the surfaced and have barred both teams from training on it as normal.
England have therefore taken the decision to train in Krakow before flying to Donetsk, when Hodgson and Gerrard will fulfil their normal pre-match obligations and the remainder of the squad will go for a walk around the stadium.