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Walcott injury brings Lennon into England World Cup squad reckoning

| 09.01.2014

First of all, it’s really sad that Theo Walcott is out of the World Cup. Sad for him and sad for England. The Arsenal winger may have his critics, but on his day he can be a match-winner and that’s the type of player Roy Hodgson will need in Brazil if it isn’t all going to end in another disappointment.

But as always in these circumstances, one player’s misfortune is another player’s opportunity and there’s now a vacancy not only for a place in the starting line-up against Italy, but also in the 23-man squad.

According to Coral, Walcott was only just ahead of Andros Townsend in the pecking order for the wide right berth so it’s no surprise that the Spurs winger is now 4/11 to be on the plane.

On the form he showed in the final qualifying games at Wembley, Townsend would almost certainly be Hodgson’s first choice in the opener, but who will be his back-up?

Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both versatile attacking midfielders, adept with both feet and capable of doing a job wide right.

The Southampton captain, 20/1 to make the squad not so long ago, is now 10/11 with Coral following impressive displays for both club and country, but he is more likely to be employed in the centre or even on the left as cover for Danny Welbeck.

Oxlade-Chamberlain (11/8) has been something of a forgotten man, but he’s almost ready to play again and if he resumes in the same sort of form he was in before he was injured, then he will be another attractive option for Hodgson, although again not necessarily out on the right.

For different reasons, Ashley Young (4/1) has not been considered seriously as an England player for some time now, but there have been glimpses of a revival in recent weeks and perhaps he will make a comeback.

But Aaron Lennon (7/4), back to something like his best again following a spell on the sidelines, is the player the England boss might well see as the most natural replacement for Walcott and back-up for Townsend.

Lennon played in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup Finals, but is still only 26 and even though it would be a stretch to see him in the starting XI, he has shown for both Spurs and England the speed and the trickery that make him such a valuable player to have on the bench.



Jon Freeman