By MATT LAWTON
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Roy Hodgson is facing a midfield crisis ahead of Euro 2012, with Frank Lampard now ruled out of the tournament along with Gareth Barry while concerns persist over Scott Parker.
The England manager said the news was a ‘huge blow’ before calling up Jordan Henderson last night. There is also worry inside the camp that Parker could start the tournament still some way short of the player he was for Tottenham earlier this season because of an achilles problem.
He played just one minute of his club’s last four games, and while he did manage an hour against Norway on Saturday — thanks to injections in the achilles — it was obvious there remains much room for improvement. Not least when it comes to the 31-year-old’s mobility.
Barring any further setbacks, Parker will start against Belgium tomorrow and against France in England’s opening group game on June 11.
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But it is a far from satisfactory situation for Hodgson when he will have only Phil Jones and Henderson in reserve to play alongside skipper Steven Gerrard.
A scan confirmed yesterday that Lampard was out of Euro 2012 because of a thigh injury he suffered in training on Wednesday.
Liverpool midfielder Henderson was in London last night waiting for UEFA to give clearance for him to join the England squad in Hertfordshire.
Lampard’s scan has been sent to the UEFA medical team, who have to agree he did not have the injury prior to the final squads being submitted on May 29 before allowing the FA to call in a replacement.
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As the FA said in a statement last night: ‘Jordan Henderson will be called into the squad, subject to agreement from UEFA’s medical team.’
The FA do, however, consider UEFA’s approval a formality.
A disappointed Hodgson said: ‘It’s a huge blow for the team, especially coming after the loss of another senior player in Gareth Barry. The fact the doctor cannot guarantee Frank could take part in any of the group matches means we have to replace him in the central midfield area.
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‘Apart from it being a huge blow to me and the team, I’m especially disappointed for Frank himself. He has been in very good form and was looking forward to the tournament. He made a huge contribution towards us qualifying for the Euros so it is cruel to be forced out through injury just before the tournament.’
It is a major concern for Hodgson when it might not have been his intention to play Gerrard for all 270 minutes of the group games in Ukraine. The Liverpool skipper has had his own injury problems this season.
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But the alternative would be the inexperienced Henderson or Jones and with Lampard and Barry out it means he has no choice but to start with Parker.
Had Lampard not suffered this setback, he would have been pushing for a starting place when there is the feeling Parker still needs to be nurtured back to full fitness.
The plan against Norway last weekend was to play him for just 45 minutes. In the end Hodgson left him on the pitch for the first 15 minutes of the second half but it is unlikely he will play the full 90 at Wembley tomorrow. England staff are not sure he is capable of playing for the full 90 minutes.
Beyond the four central midfielders Hodgson is taking there are other options.
James Milner has some experience of playing in a central role for club as well as country, and there is a belief that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has the versatility to play there too.
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But this is not the kind of situation England would have wanted so close to the tournament, particularly when they had already lost Jack Wilshere to injury.
It leaves Hodgson just one injury setback away from a completely makeshift central midfield when he already has to contend with the suspension of Wayne Rooney for the first two matches and the loss of Kyle Walker to injury, too.
But the FA have stressed again that calling up Michael Carrick was not an option.
The FA were informed in January that the Manchester United midfielder no longer wanted to be a member of the squad.
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