When the injury induced absence of Danny Welbeck was announced by Arsenal, the most notable sigh must have come from Roy Hodgson. The England international team manager rates the forward very high and believes he is a vital element of his attack.
Welbeck too, somewhat surprisingly, plays well for the ‘Three Lions’ irrespective of his club form. Even when he was at Manchester United, Welbeck used to somehow find his scoring boots while on national duty. This is one of the reasons why Hodgson feels that he is an asset for him.
Hodgson saw his team become the first nation to qualify for the European Championship finals next summer. After a routine 6-0 victory over minnows San Marino, the focus shifted on the preparation for the big tournament ahead.
The England manager will now have to consider his final 23-player selection for France. With the remaining qualifiers coming up and some friendlies lined up, there could be some experimentation to see the best options available to him.
This is where the problem is for Welbeck and Hodgson. Those matches will come too soon for the 24-year-old Arsenal forward. It was only last week that the club announced that the striker would be out for a “period of months” after undergoing surgery, but Hodgson believes it will be even longer.
Welbeck hasn’t played for Arsenal since April and was penciled for a return in this month. But, with his latest injury setback, the return now looks to be not until after Christmas. However, Hodgson fears that the time frame could be far worse.
“Well, Welbeck bothers me now,” the England manager said. “He has already been out for me since March and for Arsenal since April, so that’s over four months, isn’t it? And now I hear it’s another six months, so I can only hope that Danny recovers a bit quicker and then hits the ground running”
Saying so, Hodgson has all but ruled the forward out of his plans. With Daniel Sturridge also out injured, the England manager may look to another Arsenal forward Theo Walcott to nail a starting place.
The loss of Welbeck could be Walcott’s gain as the clock is ticking on the Euro hopefuls. For Welbeck, this could be a blessing in disguise because he can plan his return with no strings attached.
Welbeck is yet to prove his worth for Arsenal fans but is always at the top of Hodgson’s plans. But injuries seem to rule him out of the Euro squad. Could this be good news for Walcott? Only time will tell.