Roy Hodgson plays down England injury concerns

Steven Gerrard and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain expected to be fit for opener against Italy

 Steven Gerrard trains with a member of the England coaching staff  in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Steven Gerrard trains with a member of the England coaching staff in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

 

England coach Roy Hodgson has allayed fitness concerns over captain Steven Gerrard ahead of the start of the World Cup.

England begin their Group D campaign against Italy in Manaus on Saturday and part of the build-up has been centred on fitness issues.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain injured his knee against Ecuador last week, while there were reports that Gerrard has been complaining of a tight groin.

The former has been stepping up his work on the training field over recent days and, according to Hodgson, there are no worries about the latter.

“We did a training session (yesterday) where the players who didn’t play on Saturday (against Honduras) trained, and some of the others did a warm-down session,” he said.

“Steven did some extra work at the end of that training session. There’s nothing wrong with him and I don’t understand that story at all.”

On Oxlade-Chamberlain he said: “He’s done very well and will work on his training programme during the course of the week.”

With the Italy game now four days away, the hype is increasing but Hodgson will not be giving away any team secrets.

“I don’t intend on giving too much away, other than what I’ve said on that – that it’s good to have options and choices,” he said.

Hodgson has taken a young squad to Brazil and added: “It’s very exciting. We have a lot of potential but before we build people up too much and say how good they are, let’s see some performances.

“I’m not trying to play down that the future is bright but what I’m saying is we are also going to need our experienced players.”

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