Townsend, Walcott, Carroll or Deeney could replace Welbeck
Roy Hodgson has several candidates in mind as he prepares to name his Euro 2016 squad
Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck is resigned to missing Euro 2016 after he damaged his left knee playing against Manchester City on Sunday.
The forward has undergone a series of scans to assess the injury but it is feared he could be out of action for months. He only returned from an injury to his right knee, which had sidelined him for ten months, in March.
Welbeck was due to meet surgeon Andy Williams today to discuss his treatment, reports the Daily Telegraph. While he and Arsenal fret over his recovery, England fans have already been pondering the options if he is ruled out of Euro 2016.
What now for Roy Hodgson?
The first task for the England manager is to establish what sort of a replacement he wants. It is not an easy question, says Patrick Barclay in the London Evening Standard, as "there is no other player with Welbeck's combination of attitude and attributes available to England". He is adaptable, mobile, hard-working and good in the air.
"Welbeck prefers to play as a central striker but Hodgson would have deployed him in a wide role, with the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge less flexible tactically," writes Martin Laurence for The Guardian. "Indeed, with three very good options to choose from in the number nine position, not to mention captain Wayne Rooney, Hodgson could opt to replace Welbeck with another player capable of fulfilling duties on the wing."
Who is in the frame?
There have been plenty of left-field suggestions, including Michail Antonio, who has enjoyed a solid first season with West Ham, and former golden boy Wilfried Zaha, who is now rebuilding his career at Crystal Palace. But there appear to be five main contenders:
West Ham chairman David Gold has called for Hodgson to turn to battering ram Carroll, reports the Daily Mirror, but Barclay of the Standard is unimpressed: "Deliver a good cross and the West Ham striker will terrify anyone in the world. But he lacks both mobility and the temperament to resist provocation," he warns.
Not a fashionable choice, but the statistics speak for themselves, says Martin Laurence in The Guardian. "Deeney's name has barely been mentioned regarding England but he also offers a direct approach and has put together an impressive debut campaign in the top flight," he says. "The way he has been bypassed in the conversation about Euro 2016 is a bit harsh."
It is "well worth examining" the claims of Defoe, argues website Give Me Sport. An experienced international, Defoe's "return to form in the top flight this season has been sensational". However, as Laurence notes, England do not lack finishers and "his skill set is probably already covered within the squad".
The Arsenal player can perform through the middle or out wide and "is the most likely beneficiary of his team-mate's misfortune", according to Matt Hughes of The Times. Others are less convinced as the Gunners' underachiever is increasingly being viewed as yesterday's man. "Walcott can play up front and on the wing but there are a number of players far more deserving of a place in the squad," says Laurence.
Newcastle's winger appears to be the most popular choice to replace Welbeck. He "has the edge on Walcott", according to the Daily Telegraph, as he has already been earmarked as a standby in case of injury.
His "form has been far better than Walcott's and he... has been an important player for Hodgson in the past", says Hughes of the Times. He is a "better fit" than many, agrees Laurence in The Guardian. "His experience of not only playing for England but making significant contributions will no doubt make him a favourite to be included in the squad."
The 24-year-old also appeals to Patrick Barclay of the Standard. Hodgson should choose a "wide attacker to challenge the sadly regressed Raheem Sterling" and Townsend is the man to do it, he says.