MIAMI (AP) — Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to go with England to the World Cup even if he doesn’t recover from a knee injury in time for the group stage, coach Roy Hodgson said on Thursday.
The midfielder sustained ligament damage in his right knee in England’s penultimate warmup against Ecuador on Wednesday following a challenge by Carlos Gruezo.
Although no definitive recovery timeframe has been released, Hodgson wants to take Oxlade-Chamberlain to Brazil even if he can feature only in the knockout stage, which is more than three weeks away.
“We will do everything in our power to keep him (in the squad),” Hodgson said at a fans’ forum in Miami. “Our medical team are optimistic and he is optimistic. We can’t say how long for certain it will take him to recover but obviously he will get very extensive treatment.”
England opens its campaign on June 14 against Italy, and under FIFA rules Oxlade-Chamberlain could be replaced in the squad up to 24 hours before the game in Manaus.
“We will do everything we can to keep him with us because a) we would we like to think we might go beyond the group stage although we can’t guarantee it, we are certainly planning for it,” Hodgson said. “And b) he played so well yesterday. He was undoubtedly our best player in the time he played, and it would be a major blow if we lose him. “
The 20-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain is having “regular assessment and treatment,” Hodgson added.
“Gutted to have picked up an injury yesterday,” Oxlade-Chamberlain wrote on Twitter. “I’m staying positive and getting to work with the medical team on recovery. Fingers crossed!”
The injury came in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first start in almost two months after recovering from a groin injury.
“He was excellent,” Hodgson said, reflecting on the 2-2 draw against Ecuador. “He was back really to his best so all I can do now I suppose is cross my fingers and touch every piece of wood I pass by that it is not serious.”
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris