Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
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Fit again Ox a lock for England’s World Cup squad

| 04.02.2014

Arsenal attacker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped up his comeback from a knee injury by scoring twice against Crystal Palace and is now in the frame to go to the World Cup with England.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, 20, was regularly included by Roy Hodgson in Three Lions squads before spending four-and-a-half months on the sidelines. The England national boss even took him to Euro 2012 as a teenager.

There’s one thing that gives Oxlade-Chamberlain the edge over other talented youngsters coming through as senior Lions internationals too. He has scored on South American soil in the Maracana, which will host the World Cup final this summer.

Given a deeper-lying midfield berth by Arsene Wenger, Oxlade-Chamberlain broke stubborn Eagles resistance with second-half strikes that temporarily sent the Gunners back to the Premier League summit.

His return to Arsenal’s squad was timely as Theo Walcott sustained a serious knee injury last month, which will almost certainly keep him from going with England to the World Cup.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is now an attractive 11/8 to make Hodgson’s roster in place of his club teammate. If his match-winning display against Palace is repeated, that price will shorten.

Where would Oxlade-Chamberlain serve the Lions best though? Hodgson’s right wing berth appears up for grabs. Tottenham wideman Andros Townsend remains odds-on at 4/11 to join utility man James Milner – a 1/2 shot – in the 23-man squad despite missing the last eight Premier League matches through injury.

Explosive impact player Townsend, 22, announced himself on the international stage by scoring on his England debut in the 4-1 World Cup qualifier victory over Montenegro at Wembley in October. His imminent return to first-team action should put pay to any hopes of a Lions recall for Spurs teammate Aaron Lennon – a 7/4 chance to make Brazil.

Southampton’s Adam Lallana is another player in Hodgson’s thinking. Club coach Mauricio Pochettino is championing his cause for international inclusion, claiming the Saints skipper is good enough to play for Brazil. Versatile Lallana, 25, played in both of England’s end-of-year friendlies and is 10/11 to remain on the roster for the World Cup.

If taking a punt on an outsider is what you’re after, then look no further than the in-form Adam Johnson at 4/1. The former Manchester City man has been rejuvenated under Gus Poyet at Sunderland, but not received his country’s call since August 2012.

Johnson has scored six Premier League goals in the last four matches and can look forward to the League Cup final against his old club.

Hodgson may also be monitoring Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, who is 5/2 to break back into the senior Lions ranks. Wilfried Zaha, on loan at Premier League strugglers Cardiff City from Manchester United, will also be looking to catch the eye. Both he and Norwich’s Nathan Redmond are outsiders, however, at 16/1 and 25/1 respectively.