England suffer Baines blow


Published: Friday 14th November 2014 by The News Editor

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England manager Roy Hodgson confirmed that Leighton Baines was ruled out of the squad to face Slovenia and Scotland after picking up a hamstring injury in training.

Baines became the third player to withdraw from the England squad after Michael Carrick and Andros Townsend pulled out after suffering groin and ankle problems respectively earlier this week.

“What happened was it was a relatively short training session. We’d had the warm-up, we’d had the passing work and were just about to go into a game situation which had only just begun when he felt his hamstring,” Hodgson said.

“Immediately he needed to stop the training because he’s an experienced player and obviously realised something wasn’t right.

“I can’t tell you the extent, we will have to wait until the doctors at Everton do their analysis or their research into the injury but it did mean he was out of the question for tomorrow.”

Hodgson chose to leave Luke Shaw out of his squad for the games, a decision he is now ruing following Baines’ injury.

He said: “Kieran Gibbs is the one to come in as unfortunately we had given our squad at 11 o’clock as we are duty-bound to do to UEFA and, because there were three left backs, I left him (Shaw) out of the 23 as we had 24 players at the time.

“As it turns out now we can’t use him.”

Hodgson said he understood the rule about naming his squad, but had hoped UEFA would show some flexibility to allow him to recall Shaw after Baines’ injury occurred less than half an hour after the deadline to submit the 23 names.

He said: “I can’t pretend that I think it’s a great idea that you have to name 23 players almost 36 hours before the game because training injuries do occur and people do get injuries and fall sick.

“I would like to think that if you are allowed to have 23 players in your squad that you should at least have the right (to) a little bit longer than 36 hours ahead of the game.

“Having said that, I did know about the rule. My hope was that because we were only 25 minutes late when we applied to bring Luke back into the squad that maybe UEFA would look at that and say ‘it’s a reasonable request and we can show some flexibility’ but they decided that wasn’t possible, that the rule is the rule, and that 11 o’clock is the deadline and because the injury occurred 25 minutes past 11 we missed it.”

Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec has praised Wayne Rooney ahead of his 100th international cap – but intends to give the England skipper an afternoon to forget.

The 29-year-old becomes England’s latest centurion when he leads the team out at Wembley and will be presented with a golden cap on the pitch before kick-off to honour the achievement.

But Katanec, whose side are second in Group E as they look to defy the odds and reach Euro 2016 in France, wants it to be an occasion that Rooney will not remember fondly.

“I want to congratulate Wayne Rooney on playing his 100th cap,” he said.

“You have to play a lot of years to get that achievement but as far as our perspective goes we will try to make it a bad experience for him.

“It is just a number – I don’t look if he will play 100 or whatever, I don’t care about this a lot. It is great when you reach so many games but no more than that. I hope that Wayne’s game will not be as good as most of his other games.

“It does not only lean on one man but he is an awesome player, a great scorer and all-round football player. He developed really well from the age of 18 when he was a bit problematic as a personality but he has settled down now.”

Rooney was at the centre of controversy on Slovenia’s only previous visit to Wembley as the Manchester United striker was accused of diving to win a first-half penalty as Fabio Capello’s side went on to secure a slender 2-1 victory.

But winger Valter Birsa insists that any talk of revenge is far from the thoughts of the Slovenian squad as they look to continue a recent run of upsetting the odds, following an unexpected win over Switzerland in October.

“It is normal that we were not pleased with the way that match ended or that situation went down,” the Chievo man said.

“But it is football and you have to accept it and move on. You cannot change anything after the match, it isn’t about revenge against Rooney – we will just play our best match possible.”

Birsa echoed the sentiments of his manager when it came to keeping Rooney quiet and wants to make it a special day for Slovenia’s own captain Bostjan Cesar, who will become the country’s record cap-holder when he makes his 81st appearance.

“Rooney is a world-class player who can decide almost any match,” Birsa added.

“We are going to try and do everything to make this match one he will remember in a bad way and on the other hand we will try and make our captain, who is breaking the record, remember the match as pleasantly as possible.”

Slovenia’s chances of an upset could be dealt a blow if key player Kevin Kampl is unable to feature, with the Red Bull Salzburg midfielder rated at 50/50 by Katanec.

The Wembley pitch could also play a part in giving Slovenia a chance of an upset after England coach Roy Hodgson criticised the decision to allow an NFL fixture to take place just six days before the qualifier.

Published: Friday 14th November 2014 by The News Editor

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