News that Theo Walcott sustained an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament against Tottenham that will, in all probability, force the Arsenal forward to miss the 2014 World Cup is an early blow to Roy Hodgson's plans for the summer.
There are a number of players who are making a case to make the final England squad though, and Walcott's injury is somewhat of a two-fold selection headache for the national team boss.
|To be included in the final World Cup squad
|Odds from bet365
Some bookmakers have begun to reassess how Walcott's injury will affect the chances of other midfielders from around the country who will be hoping to prove themselves worthy of a place in the final squad.
It's no surprise to see the likes of Daniel Sturridge (1/6), Danny Welbeck (1/6) and Andros Townsend (1/4) at long odds on prices with bet365 given that - baring injury - all three should be included, but value could be found examining the larger prices on offer.
Southampton winger Adam Lallana may only have two senior England caps to his name so far but the 25-year-old has proved he is worthy of consideration and is made an Even money (2.00) chance by bet365 to make the final World Cup squad. The Saints man made a solid international debut against Chile recently and has played a big part in Southampton's early surge to the upper echelons of the Premier League table.
While the odds would suggest Andros Townsend is highly likely to be included, his Spurs teammate Aaron Lennon is a 6/4 (2.50) chance. After missing a couple of months with injury, the 26-year-old has become a regular starter since his return and if that run continues he will have the opportunity to show the England boss what he is capable of.
Another wide man who is struggling with injuries of late is Walcott's Arsenal teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who, despite a lack of first team action, is a 7/4 (2.75) chance to make the squad. The 20-year-old only has one Premier League appearance to his name this season and despite his inclusion in the Euro 2012 squad that travelled to Poland and Ukraine under Hodgson, 7/4 (2.75) quotes are probabaly best avoided for now.
Raheem Sterling may not be a mainstay for his club side but the Liverpool man has nine starts and six substitute appearances in the Premier League campaign so far, potentially enough time for him to begin to make a case for next summer's tournament, especially considering he already has three league goals in that time.
The 19-year-old has grown into Brendan Rodgers' plans as the season has worn on and with the likes of Iago Aspas and Fabio Borini out on loan Sterling could get plenty more opportunities to prove his worth. Backing him at 6/4 (2.50), a price that has already shortened after news of Walcott's injury, could prove a wise investment about a player who made his senior international debut against Sweden back in November.
One player who has drastically fallen out of form, quite literally, is Ashley Young. The Manchester United winger has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons more often than the right ones over the last year and coupled with United's decline under new boss David Moyes, it's no surprise to see Young as a 3/1 (4.00) chance to be included.
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