Liverpool’s England debutant favoured to replace Ox in Rio

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s World Cup participation was thrown into a sea of uncertainty after being on the receiving end of a clumsy challenge from Ecuador’s Carlos Gruezo in the 2-2 World Cup warm up in Miami.

The winger, who was substituted immediately after the challenge, has suffered knee ligament damage as a result of the tackle, leaving him at risk of missing some, if not all, of England’s Group D matches.

Reports suggest that the Arsenal winger, who had been one of the brighter players on the pitch leading up to his Miami injury, could miss between 10 and 21 days with the injury.

That’s led to Ladbrokes opening a book on who will replace the flyer in Roy Hodgson’s squad, with a defender leading the race to get the nod.

Jon Flanagan, who made his England debut in the same Ecuadorian encounter, is 6/5 with the company to be Hodgson’s pick to fill in for Chamberlain should the Arsenal man be ruled out.

Selecting the Liverpool full-back, who can play on either flank, would mean Hodgson would have a more natural deputy to Glen Johnson in his squad, allowing Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to focus on their tasks as centre-backs and ending the dodgy experimentation with James Milner as a right-back.

Another defender, Everton’s John Stones, is the next cab on the rank according to the betting, at 5/2. The youngster, came off the bench to make his international bow against Ecuador and was used at left-back.

Primarily a centre-back, Hodgson could use him as the fourth-choice alternative and push either of the versatile Manchester United defenders to right-back, although with Flanagan available that seems unlikely.

Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley, the two midfield options on the standby list, are priced up at 4/1 and 5/1 respectively with Toronto FC front man Jermain Defoe the joker of the pack at 12s.

One squad member who the Chamberlain knock could be good news for is Adam Lallana, who saw his odds to start against Italy slashed from 4/5 to 1/2 following the news.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.