Danny Welbeck’s replacement will be one of the main talking points when Roy Hodgson names England’s provisional party for Euro 2016 on Monday.
Initially the 23 men charged with leading the country to glory were to be revealed on Thursday, only for a late change of heart by the coaching staff to see the squad for the preparation matches pushed back.
Hodgson wanted to take in the final Premier League matches of the season in order to better assess players’ fitness, spending Sunday watching Arsenal’s 4-0 thrashing of relegated Aston Villa.
The England boss will no doubt have been pleased to see Jack Wilshere make his first start of the season, playing 69 minutes of a match that Theo Walcott missed with a slight hamstring.
The Gunners forward was among the favourites to replace injured team-mate Welbeck, but it is reported that Newcastle’s Andros Townsend, who won the last of his 10 caps in October, will instead get the nod.
The former Spurs man, who has also seemingly seen off competition from Jesse Lingard, would take the spot of Welbeck, who faces nine months out after undergoing surgery on a knee injury.
If Hodgson instead decides to replace him with an out-and-out striker, the likes of Marcus Rashford, Andy Carroll or Jermain Defoe look to be in contention.
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The latter duo’s late surge for the squad is not a patch on Rashford’s given he only made his first-team debut for Manchester United in February.
The 18-year-old’s impressive displays have forced him into Hodgson’s thoughts and it is understood the striker may be called up to work with the seniors before Euro 2016.
A similar arrangement was made with Jon Flanagan and John Stones before the World Cup two years ago, when the pair made their debuts in pre-tournament friendlies – a path Rashford could follow in the friendly against Australia on May 27.
FA Cup final duties with Manchester United next Saturday would rule Rashford out of England’s match against Turkey the following day, while Liverpool’s involvement in the Europa League could also impact that match.
Defensively things seem more settled for Hodgson, although there is the dilemma of how many defenders to take.
“The 23, don’t forget, you have to take three goalkeepers and you’ve got to take at least seven back players,” the England manager said last month.
“I suppose you might argue you could take six but it would be a very, very risky thing to do, to take six back players to play the number of games we hope to play, so there are 10 of your places gone for starters. So you’re left with 13 places and that’s for all your midfielders and forwards.”
Everton defender Phil Jagielka’s position looks the most precarious, despite captaining his country during the qualification campaign, and defensive midfielder Eric Dier’s ability to play in the back line may perhaps sway the manager’s decision.
Jordan Henderson, like fellow England international Danny Ings, returned from a knee injury as a second-half substitute as Liverpool drew 1-1 at West Brom.
Meanwhile, Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater, who impressed on his debut against Holland in March, is vying for a spot in the squad and will have done his chances no harm by drilling in the champions’ leveller as Chelsea were held 1-1.
Hodgson has until May 31 to confirm his 23-man squad to tournament organisers UEFA, with Russia, Wales and Slovakia the teams in England’s group at Euro 2016