Roy Hodgson claims Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck could be out for six months – and the England boss is just as concerned about Daniel Sturridge.
Arsenal released a statement last week in which they said Welbeck would miss “a period of months” after a knee operation, with Hodgson claiming the 24-year-old may not play again until March.
That would leave Welbeck only two months to find full fitness and form ahead of the Euro 2016 finals, something which is already concerning Hodgson.
Sturridge, meanwhile, is close to returning to action after a hip injury, but Hodgson admits he is having to make plans without both strikers until he can be certain of their fitness.
“Welbeck bothers me now,” Hodgson said. “He has already been out for me since March and for Arsenal since April. And now I hear it’s another six months so I can only hope that Danny recovers a bit quicker and then hits the ground running.
“Daniel is a little bit the same. It’s getting on for a year now. They are always in my thoughts because I think they’re very good players and they did extremely well when they were playing. But we can’t keep going around talking about the ones who aren’t there.
“We’ve got to be quite sanguine about it and we mustn’t start thinking, ‘When this one comes back, we’ll be better still’. We can’t do that. We’ve got to make sure we’re good with the ones who are playing.”
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is another of Hodgson’s first-choice players that is currently out injured, and Hodgson has said he will use the remainder of the qualification campaign to experiment.
“Absolutely we are working on a plan B,” Hodgson added . “I can foresee people breaking in. There are quite a few we are watching fairly closely.”
“I think what we’re trying to develop is a bigger pool of players, to get that pool up to 30-odd where we can say, ‘Whatever happens, as long as we can get 23 of this 30, we’ll be OK’.
“Then you would have to be very unlucky if two or three in the same position went down. It’s more important to have pathways for those we might have in the future.”