NO CARROLL CONCERNS FOR HODGSON
England manager Roy Hodgson insists he has no concerns about the commitment and ability of Andy Carroll after naming the controversial Liverpool striker in his Euro 2012 squad.
Carroll has largely been seen as a flop since his £35million transfer from Newcastle to Liverpool, but he squeezed into Hodgson's 23-man squad ahead of Peter Crouch - a man who has scored 22 goals in 42 international appearances - after a series of good performances towards the end of the season.
Carroll's pedigree has never been in doubt. The 6ft 4in striker's hulking frame allows him to shrug off challenges from the strongest defenders in the world and he was prolific during his time at Newcastle.
It is off the pitch where questions marks lie about the striker's ability to cut it at the top level.
Last September Hodgson's predecessor Fabio Capello advised Carroll he needed to focus more and "drink less" after becoming concerned with the lifestyle of the striker, who has been in trouble with the police on several occasions.
With Wayne Rooney suspended for England's first two matches of Euro 2012, Hodgson may choose Carroll to lead the line for the Three Lions at the tournament and the England boss had no qualms about including the player after a chat with former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.
"I spoke to Kenny about him as I don't know (Carroll) well and it's easy to be tricked by perceptions of players - about what you hear and read about them - but Kenny was convinced about his ability and his personality," Hodgson said.
"He was convinced about his seriousness as a professional. When I heard that it meant I had no further reservations.
"He is a very different player to what else we have in the squad.
"He can hold the ball up and has the ability to make the runs behind defenders and use his strength and power."
Hodgson chose Carroll, Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck as his strikers for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy and Arsenal's teenage starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were surprising inclusions while there was no place for Michael Carrick, Micah Richards and Rio Ferdinand, who was left out instead of John Terry.
Hodgson did not include Paul Scholes despite a clamour for the 38-year-old Manchester United veteran to be included.
The naming of Steven Gerrard as England skipper was expected, with Hodgson having seen the midfielder's leadership at close quarters during his time in charge at Liverpool.
The 64-year-old hopes Gerrard can instil a sense of unity that has been put in doubt by Terry's alleged racial abuse of Rio's brother Anton Ferdinand - a charge the Chelsea captain denies.
"I will be counting on him to help me as much as he can, to build the team unity, and build the type of environment to give us a chance to thrive at this tournament," Hodgson said of Gerrard.
"He merits this distinction. I know him as a person, a player, I know how committed he is to England."
Hodgson has been criticised for including Liverpool winger Stewart Downing, but his selection of Oxlade-Chamberlain has been widely praised.
The 18-year-old has started just six Barclays Premier League games since his £15million move to Arsenal but has excelled towards the end of the season and offers pace and strength on either flank or through the middle of midfield.
"He is a very exciting player," Hodgson said.
"He has given one or two appearances that made a big impression on me, not least when Arsenal played Milan at the Emirates. He can play wide or central.
"For the future he is one we will see a lot of if he continues as he has started."
England have also revised their plans for the build-up to next month's tournament.
The Three Lions will now meet up in Manchester on Wednesday evening before flying to Norway on Friday for their friendly in Oslo, rather than attending a training camp in Spain, which has now been scrapped.
Seven days after that, England face Belgium at Wembley - although Ruddy will be missing, having been given special dispensation to leave the squad by Hodgson as he will get married on June 2.
England squad for Euro 2012: Goalkeepers - Green (West Ham), Hart (Man City) Ruddy (Norwich).
Defenders - Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Cole (Chelsea), Johnson (Liverpool), Jones (Man Utd), Lescott (Man City), Terry (Chelsea).
Midfielders - Barry (Man City), Downing (Liverpool), Gerrard (Liverpool), Lampard (Chelsea), Milner (Man City), Parker (Tottenham), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Walcott (Arsenal), Young (Man Utd).
Forwards - Carroll (Liverpool), Rooney (Man Utd), Welbeck (Man Utd), Defoe (Tottenham).
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