HODGSON MIGHT GAMBLE ON WELBECK
England coach Roy Hodgson has indicated he may be prepared to make an exception to his plan not to take injured players to Euro 2012 in order to squeeze Danny Welbeck into his squad.
The Manchester United forward has not played a competitive match since April 30, when he sustained an ankle injury in a challenge with Nigel de Jong during the key Barclays Premier League defeat to Manchester City.
Welbeck carried on having intensive treatment after the domestic campaign drew to a close but has still only been able to do light training sessions and has no chance of being involved in England's friendly with Norway.
Hodgson has previously stated his preference not to select injured players for the Finals in Poland and Ukraine this summer and he does have Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge on standby in case Welbeck fails to make it.
However, Hodgson has now suggested he may be willing to bend his own rules, even though there is a long list of England managers who have picked players for major tournaments despite fitness doubts and been forced to regret it.
"We didn't want to take anyone who wasn't 100%," said Hodgson.
"But given the shortage of front players we have and the fact Wayne Rooney can't play until the third game, if we are going to make any allowances whatsoever, it would be for a forward.
"Danny's injury has cleared up less quickly than we would have hoped.
"I fully expect to name him in the squad but on the other hand, it could be that he might still not be capable of taking part in all the training sessions next week.
"But the doctor Ian Beasley is telling me he doesn't think there is a major problem."
The news surrounding Scott Parker and Glen Johnson is more optimistic.
Parker has shown no ill effects from the injection he had in his Achilles injury last week, while Johnson's toe problem is being described as "an irritant" by the new England boss.
Like Welbeck, Johnson will not be involved on Saturday.
Parker will though, in a team captained by Steven Gerrard and including Robert Green in goal, his first cap since that disastrous mistake against the United States during the opening World Cup game in South Africa two years ago.
Leighton Baines and Phil Jones will occupy the full-back berths, while Liverpool striker Andy Carroll gets a berth, further recognition for his superb performances in the latter weeks of the campaign.
It promises to be a significant test, although given it will be his own first game in charge, Hodgson was not in the mood for sentiment.
"It will be a very proud moment," he said.
"But I don't want to make comparisons because I have had some proud moments walking out with other teams as well.
"I am excited. Nervous? I don't know.
"I am more eager to see what some of these players can do. I am in a learning stage.
"I don't have an awful lot of time to work out what a starting XI is going to look like and tomorrow will be a very important step, as will the game the week after at Wembley.
"My plan is to give as many players a game at some point over these next two matches to at least give me a chance of picking the team for France."
Hodgson shrugged off the statistic of the previous seven new England managers winning their first games in charge and was equally dismissive of the proud record of Norway coach Egil Olsen, who has never lost in four meetings with the Three Lions.
"I would be much happier if you could guarantee me I would win the first game in the European Championships," he said.
"That would please me much more."
On a more serious note, Hodgson expressed his sadness that the families of both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have opted not to travel to Ukraine due to fears of racism.
"It is sad some of the families are not going," he said.
"These matters are totally and utterly out of our control.
"We can only have faith and trust in UEFA that they are aware of these problems, particularly in Ukraine, and we can only hope they can solve them.
"I don't expect my players to suffer racist abuse because I prefer to remain optimistic.
"If it is particularly bad, it is not just our black players, it is other countries as well.
"We will be in a boat - we can only hope the captain steers it properly."
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