x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Oxlade-Chamberlain fit for World Cup, Hodgson says after England draw

England winger passes knee ligament test as his team are forced to a goalless draw in friendly against Honduras.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, right, will recover in time for the World Cup after injuring his knee ligament. AP Photo
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, right, will recover in time for the World Cup after injuring his knee ligament. AP Photo

England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit to play at the Fifa World Cup after damaging his medial knee ligament against Ecuador in a warm-up game, according to manager Roy Hodgson.

“I think he will make the tournament without a shadow of a doubt. That’s good news,” Hodgson said on Saturday after his side were held to a 0-0 draw by 10-man Honduras.

A disconsolate Oxlade-Chamberlain had hobbled off during the 2-2 draw with Ecuador on Wednesday at the Sun Life stadium.

England were relieved to get through their latest test ahead of the finals in Brazil without any more injuries but captain Steven Gerrard was not happy with the Honduras tackling.

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Striker Daniel Sturridge was lucky to escape without injury when Emilio Izaguirre booted the ball against his midriff having just brought him down with a reckless challenge.

“I don’t understand the referee when the ball is being kicked into a player’s chest,” Gerrard said. “That should have been a straight red card and with 10 men it could have been different.”

Fellow World Cup qualifiers Honduras were eventually reduced to 10 men in the 65th minute when right back Brayan Beckeles was shown a second yellow card for catching England’s Leighton Baines in the head with his arm as they jumped for the ball.

“We’re quite frustrated in the dressing room. We thought the referee was poor, they were doing some stupid fouls,” added Gerrard, who was frustrated that England had failed to score.

“Maybe we could have moved the ball a bit quicker, but there were some horrific challenges. I certainly got caught by one.”

Gerrard said he was withdrawn at halftime as a precaution with Hodgson not wanting to risk his captain’s fitness.

“I had a tight groin in midweek so it was always the plan for me to play just 45 minutes,” he said.

Roy Hodgson, the England manager breathed a sigh of relief after his team emerged unscathed from the bruising draw.

A match interrupted by a lightning storm also saw plenty of sparks on the pitch with a number of full-blooded challenges that would have given Hodgson some anxious moments.

England created several openings but failed to take advantage with Sturridge the main culprit, but Hodgson was now looking forward to getting down to the main business at hand.

“Honduras were quite physical and it was one of the most frustrating games I have been involved in for a long time,” he said.

“I thought the tempo of our play and effort to score in the second half was commendable. I will take the draw and take the fact we got away without any injuries. We go to Brazil in the right frame of mind,” he said.

Wayne Rooney made his third straight start for England, making him the only member of Hodsgon’s squad to play in all three pre-World Cup warm-ups.

The Manchester United forward was again asked to play on the left flank and it was Rooney who produced the first effort on goal with a curling free-kick in the 14th minute which Honduras keeper Noel Valladrares spilled.

Rooney then sparked another England opportunity when, on the edge of the area, he fed Danny Welbeck, who dummied the ball allowing it to run into the path of Sturridge who should have done better than drag a left foot shot wide of the post.

Sturridge’s Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling was missing after picking up a red card in the 2-2 draw against Ecuador on Wednesday and Honduras’s Emilio Izaguirre was fortunate to avoid a similar punishment after he drove the ball into Sturridge’s midrift while he lay on the ground.

There was surprise when American referee Ricardo Salazar halted the game in the 23rd minute and ordered the teams of the field due to a lightning warning.

The teams were off the field for 43 minutes while the lightning passed the area and after the break the Hondurans picked up the tempo better.

Rooney made way for Ross Barkley at the break with Jack Wilshere taking the place of Steven Gerrad in the centre of midfield.

Barkley quickly made an impact with a snap shot that flashed wide just two minutes after the re-start and he seemed to give England some instant creative impetus.

England start their World Cup Group D campaign against Italy in Manaus on June 14.

Honduras have a tough start against France in Group E before tackling Ecuador and Switzerland and coach Luis Fernando Suarez said they would take heart from the draw.

“A result like this against England can give us some belief and give people in Honduras some cause for optimism,” he told reporters.

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