Danny Welbeck had a training session cut short by injury and is now a major doubt to face Italy, according to ESPN.
England head coach Roy Hodgson now has some decisions to make, as it was thought that the Manchester United forward was a likely candidate to start the match in Manaus against Cesare Prandelli’s Italians.
Welbeck has scored eight goals in 24 appearances for his country, including one with a memorably audacious backheeled flick against Sweden in the European Championship finals of 2012. He started two of England’s three warm-up matches prior to this current World Cup and as such was seen as a key member of the squad.
It is thought Welbeck’s place could be taken by young Liverpool attacker Raheem Sterling. The Jamaica-born teenager has played just 39 minutes of England’s warm-up games, and was controversially given a red card against Ecuador.
However, Hodgson appears to have no fears about putting the youngster into such a high pressure situation, saying: “He’s as fit as a flea. It was unfortunate that he couldn’t play against Honduras but I can tell you that Raheem Sterling is very much in the group of players I’m considering. If I select him, it won’t be in my opinion a risk that he hasn’t played so many minutes.”
But Welbeck’s injury is not a welcome problem for Hodgson, after he also saw Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out of the Italy clash with a knee injury.