Ox set to start as England prepare to take a risk against France

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There are growing whispers that Roy Hodgson is set to take a calculated gamble against France with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting in the hope of securing an England victory at 9/4.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was the big shock call into England’s final 23 as at the time he was still to be handed a call up into the full international fold.

However, he has since been handed a debut with 17 minutes as a substitute in the friendly win over Norway and then he gained a first start in the success over Belgium.

There were still suggestions from some quarters that the 18-year-old would perform a similar role to Theo Walcott at the 2006 World Cup, when he was taken as a teenager by Sven-Goran Eriksson without getting any pitch time.

But these beliefs seem completely wrong as Hodgson is expected to start with Oxlade-Chamberlain at the expense of Stewart Downing.

It would seem that the Arsenal midfielder would act as a straight swap on the left, with James Milner retaining his place on the right, with Downing and Theo Walcott potentially injecting directness as second-half substitutes.

Although clearly lacking in experience, Oxlade-Chamberlain is not short on pace, power and maturity on the ball and every tournament tends to uncover a surprise package and he looks a prime candidate.

Furthermore, the news could show that Hodgson is preparing to adopt a more attacking mentality against France, in comparison to a slightly defensive-minded approach in his two friendlies in charge.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is priced at a tempting 18/1 to score the first goal in the opening Group D clash and 6/1 to strike at any time in the 90 minutes.

The Ox could still have a big impact without scoring and he is 16/1 to be handed the man-of-the-match award.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.