Joleon Lescott has expressed his sympathy for Theo Walcott because the Arsenal winger’s family do not feel they can travel to Ukraine this summer due to the threat of racism.
A series of warnings have been issued over the problems England fans may encounter at Euro 2012, and evidently, their players do not feel they will be immune.
Walcott’s family are the first to confirm they will not be making the trip as a direct result of the potential for encountering racism during their travels.
Lescott’s will not be there either, although the Manchester City defender insists that choice has nothing to do with racism.
However, he understands the problem still exists and feels sad Walcott may be affected so obviously.
“It is a shame they have to make that decision for nothing to do with football,” he said.
“Theo is a vital member of the squad. He is likely to play a lot of games and have a big role in the team.
“It is a shame his family won’t be able to go and support him.
“I understand it though, if they feel it is going to be a problem when he is out there.
“My family won’t be going either. Not for any particular reason, they just won’t be going.”
It does seem odd a major tournament should take place under such an enormous cloud.
However, Lescott wonders whether the sport can ever be totally rid of racism.
“It is shame we are talking about it but I think we always will be,” he said. “You can’t get rid of it from people’s minds.
“It is a touchy subject for some people to talk about. But if you address it pretty early I don’t think it will be a problem.
“On the whole, our country deals with it pretty well. It is not as bad in England as it is in other countries.”
Lescott insists he has no problem being part of the same squad as John Terry, even though the Chelsea captain has a court case to face once Euro 2012 is over as a result of remarks he is alleged to have made to QPR’s Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road in October.
“There are no problems,” said Lescott.
“We have been in squads before. We were all together for the Spain and Sweden games in November when we had two good results and performances.
“It has proved there is no animosity in the squad. There are no grudges held towards anyone.”
Terry is one of five players – three Chelsea team-mates plus Wayne Rooney – who will not meet up until next Tuesday, after the weekend friendly with Norway in Oslo, as new coach Roy Hodgson offered them additional time off after an arduous season.
It means Lescott is likely to start alongside former Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka against Norway, with Phil Jones at right-back as Glen Johnson hardly took any part in training yesterday with a badly bruised toe.
The other major fitness doubt is Danny Welbeck, who trained away from the main group at the Etihad Stadium as he eased his way back after a recent ankle problem.
Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker showed no ill effects after a recent injection into his Achilles, suggesting he will be able to take his place in Hodgson’s 23-man squad, who will open their Group D campaign against France in Donetsk on June 11.
With Terry and Gary Cahill both likely to be available for next weekend’s Wembley encounter with Belgium, the Norway trip offers an obvious opportunity for Lescott to impress Hodgson, who is clearly more hands-on than predecessor Fabio Capello.
“The biggest difference between Roy Hodgson and Fabio Capello is communication,” said Lescott.
“The manager’s first language is English so Roy gets his point across pretty well.”
Goal-line technology is to be tested at England’s friendly against Belgium at Wembley on June 2.
The Hawkeye system will be installed at the national stadium for the match, which will be Hodgson’s first home game in charge of England.
If there are any close calls however only the scientists monitoring the system will know the results - the referee will not be informed.
If the tests are successful, the go-ahead for technology is expected to be given on July 2.
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