EURO REHEARSAL FOR ANDY CARROLL
Roy Hodgson will offer Andy Carroll first shot at leading England's Euro 2012 attack in Norway tonight.
With Wayne Rooney absent and Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck injured, Carroll has been handed a starting spot in Oslo, knowing if he matches Hodgson's lofty expectations, he will surely keep his place for the European Championship opener against France in Donetsk on June 11.
"I'm expecting what I saw from him in the latter stages of the season with Liverpool," said Hodgson.
"Against top class teams, he played really well.
"He was extremely active and caused amazing problems for the centre-backs he played against, not just with his strength, but also his running power.
"I expect a lot from him."
Rooney is missing from the first two games at Euro 2012 and Welbeck is not certain to be there at all.
The United man has still not recovered from the ankle injury he sustained in the Manchester derby on April 30.
And, whilst Hodgson has been advised the 21-year-old should be fit before the real action starts, Welbeck has been summoned to England's Watford training base along with Glen Johnson on Monday for medical tests just 24 hours before England have to confirm their 23-man travelling party.
"I'm hoping I'm not taking an 80% fit striker. I'm counting on Welbeck being fully fit," added Hodgson.
"You employ doctors, physios and experts and you value their opinions. When the opinion is: 'Don't worry, he'll be fit and okay', you have to accept that.
"We have a couple more days and there is an element of risk involved. But we don't have other alternatives of the Welbeck type."
Hodgson hardly needs reminding that there is a long list of players past England managers have gambled on ahead of major tournaments, only for them not to do themselves justice.
Rooney and Gareth Barry are recent examples but the inability of Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking to make any impact at the 1982 World Cup is seared in the brain as well.
Yet, as he prepares to take charge for the first time, Hodgson claims juggling such situations is part of the baggage that comes with being England manager.
"It will always happen," he said.
"We go to these tournaments at the end of very long seasons and often players have been playing with injections to get them through to the end.
"When we pick them up, the injections have to stop and the treatment begins afresh."
Hodgson has lost one player, third-choice keeper John Ruddy, to a broken finger.
Birmingham teenager Jack Butland will not join up as Ruddy's replacement until next week so, with Joe Hart rested, Robert Green will start his first England game since that disastrous World Cup experience against the United States two years ago.
England's defence will include Everton's Phil Jagielka, the defensive stand-by player.
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