Hodg­son is pre­pared to take gam­ble on Wil­shere

Eng­land man­ager sees mid­fielder’s come­back Townsend set to re­ceive the nod over Wal­cott

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - TOTAL FOOTBALL - By Ja­son Burt Chief Foot­ball Cor­re­spon­dent

Roy Hodg­son chose to be at the Emi­rates the day be­fore he an­nounces the Eng­land squad for Euro 2016 to run the rule over Jack Wil­shere.

The Eng­land man­ager wanted to take in a Lon­don game be­fore meet­ing his coach­ing staff to fi­nalise the 23-man squad – plus a num­ber of standby play­ers – and elected to go to Arse­nal against As­ton Villa in­stead of Chelsea’s home match against Le­ices­ter City be­cause he was in­formed in ad­vance that Wil­shere would start.

Hodg­son fully in­tends to in­clude the mid­fielder in his squad, even though it was Wil­shere’s first start for al­most a year – his last start was for Eng­land in the Euro 2016 qual­i­fier away to Slove­nia last June when he scored two goals – since break­ing his leg in pre-sea­son train­ing. It shows how im­por­tant Wil­shere is to Hodg­son’s plans.

Wil­shere has made three re­cent ap­pear­ances now for Arse­nal and al­though this was his first start, in a 4-0 vic­tory over rel­e­gated Villa, he did not last the 90 min­utes and was sub­sti­tuted af­ter 69 min­utes af­ter a per­for­mance in which he looked short of fit­ness.

Arse­nal man­ager Arsène Wenger con­ceded that Wil­shere needed to play more games and ar­gued that he would be sharp enough if he fea­tured in two of Eng­land’s three warm-up matches be­fore go­ing to France. It ap­pears Hodg­son agrees with that as­sess­ment.

Hodg­son will meet his as­sis­tants Ray Lew­ing­ton and Gary Neville and con­sider the opin­ion of the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s med­i­cal staff – who have re­viewed the fit­ness of the likes of Wil­shere, Jor­dan Hen­der­son, who made his come­back for Liver­pool in their draw at West Bromwich Al­bion, and Daniel Stur­ridge – be­fore nam­ing his squad this morn­ing at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium.

The in­jury to Danny Wel­beck has af­fected Hodg­son’s plans. The Arse­nal striker would have been in his start­ing XI be­fore he dam­aged his knee and un­der­went surgery, rul­ing him out for up to nine months. Hodg­son had in­tended to name his squad last Thurs­day but be­cause of the fit­ness doubts de­layed it. It is un­der­stood the man­ager still has con­cerns over the fit­ness of a num­ber of play­ers in his squad.

Hodg­son will name a hand­ful of standby play­ers – he wants to name 23, still, rather than an en­larged squad – and it has al­ready been re­vealed that Manchester United’s 18-year-old striker Mar­cus Rash­ford will train with Eng­land, al­though the man­ager has pre­vi­ously ruled out tak­ing him to France.

Rash­ford was un­able to be in­cluded in the Un­der-21 squad for the forth­com­ing Toulon tour­na­ment, which starts on Thurs­day, be­cause he will be in­volved in the FA Cup fi­nal on Satur­day.

One of the big­gest choices Hodg­son faces ap­pears to be be­tween An­dros Townsend and Theo Wal­cott. In­di­ca­tions are that Townsend is more likely to be se­lected as he again im­pressed in New­cas­tle United’s shock 5-1 de­mo­li­tion of his for­mer club, Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, while Wal­cott did not make the Arse­nal squad as he is suf­fer­ing from a ham­string in­jury.

If Townsend is in­cluded it will com­plete a re­mark­able come­back by the winger who was bombed out of Spurs in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow and has not fea­tured for Eng­land since com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute in the Euro 2016 qual­i­fier away to Lithua­nia last Oc­to­ber.

Hodg­son has to de­cide the makeup of his squad. In­di­ca­tions are that he is set to take seven de­fend­ers. He has been con­sid­er­ing choos­ing just three cen­tral de­fend­ers, with Phil Jagielka’s place most un­der threat. If Jagielka is cho­sen then a full-back could be omit­ted.

Hen­der­son’s re­turn is timely af­ter he dam­aged a knee against Borus­sia Dort­mund last month, putting his Eng­land place in doubt.

Eng­land have three prepa­ra­tion games ahead of the tour­na­ment. They face Turkey next Sun­day at the Eti­had Sta­dium be­fore play­ing Aus­tralia at the Sta­dium of Light and a send-off game against Por­tu­gal at Wem­b­ley.

Wil­shere was sub­sti­tuted af­ter a per­for­mance where he looked short of fit­ness

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