Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s FIFA World Cup™ dreams are in serious doubt after he suffered a knee injury in England’s ill-tempered 2-2 draw against Ecuador in Miami.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had to come off in the 63rd minute of England’s stalemate after being injured in a tangle with Ecuador’s Carlos Gruezo. The Arsenal winger, who was playing his first match since 20 April because of a groin injury, did not look in pain as he walked off the pitch but as he exited the stadium on Wednesday night, he was hobbling as a result of the injury to his right leg.
England manager Roy Hodgson has deep concerns about Oxlade-Chamberlain’s chances of making the World Cup, which starts next week. “We have our fears there might be some ligament damage,” Hodgson was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“His knee buckled under the challenge as the player turned into him,” Hodgson added in his post-match press conference. “He’ll have a scan, I’d imagine. When we’ve had the scan, we’ll know more.”
Jack Wilshere and Luke Shaw also had to be substituted in the match, but the England manager insists they will be fine for the tournament in Brazil. “Jack Wilshere suffered from cramp, Luke Shaw too. We took them off for those reasons alone,” Hodgson said.
Enner Valencia put Ecuador in front in the eighth minute before Wayne Rooney equalised. Rickie Lambert put England ahead for the first time after the break, but Michael Arroyo scored a belting 20-yard strike to level the game.
The match ended in controversy after Raheem Sterling and Antonio Valencia were given straight red cards with 11 minutes to go. Sterling took Valencia out with a wild challenge and the Manchester United midfielder responded by grabbing the Liverpool youngster by the neck.
Luckily for England, Sterling’s World Cup place is not affected by the dismissal and he will only miss one friendly match – Saturday’s game against Honduras in Miami.
Hodgson was delighted to see Rooney play well in his unfamiliar position on the left wing at the Sun Life Stadium. The Manchester United forward’s goal – a tap-in from a yard – could have not been more simple, but his overall play – a mixture of power, pace and vision – was exemplary.
“I thought Wayne Rooney played very, very well,” Hodgson added. “I thought it was a very good game. I was disappointed with the sendings-off, and the potential injury to one of our players, but as a friendly, a warm-up match for our players, it was good.”
Hodgson sang the praises of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Phil Jones and Lambert, but he refused to talk in the same manner about Ross Barkley despite the midfielder’s impressive full debut. The 20-year-old showed flashes of Rooney-esque play in the former Everton player’s preferred number 10 role.
Hodgson tried to play down the midfielder’s contribution though. “I’m not prepared to address your obsession with Ross Barkley,” said Hodgson, who accused the media of having an “obsession” with Rooney on Tuesday. “He lost the ball an awful lot of times as well. If he’s going to be the player we want him to be, he has to make better decisions of when he turns with the ball.
“That’s not a criticism, but there were other performances out there today who merited your ‘obsession’ more than Ross Barkley’s. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones were outstanding, Jack Wilshere in the middle of the park, Rickie Lambert scored a magnificent goal.”
Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda was also not getting carried away with his team’s efforts despite the 2-2 draw. “We have to improve aspects of our game to be ready for the start of the World Cup,” said Rueda, whose team will play in Group E alongside Switzerland, France and Honduras.