England manager Roy Hodgson last night confirmed that Leighton Baines was ruled out of the squad to face Slovenia and Scotland after picking up a hamstring injury in training.
Baines became the third player to withdraw from the England squad after Michael Carrick and Andros Townsend pulled out earlier this week suffering groin and ankle problems respectively.
“What happened was it was a relatively short training session. We’d had the warm-up, we’d had the passing work and were just about to go into a game situation which had only just begun when (Baines) felt his hamstring,” Hodgson said.
“Immediately he needed to stop the training because he’s an experienced player and obviously realised something wasn’t right.
“I can’t tell you the extent; we will have to wait until the doctors at Everton do their analysis or their research into the injury but it did mean he was out of the question (for tonight).”
Hodgson chose to leave Manchester United’s Luke Shaw out of his squad for the games, a decision he is now ruing following Baines’s injury.
He said: “Kieran Gibbs is the one to come in as unfortunately we had given our squad at 11 o’clock as we are duty-bound to do to UEFA and, because there were three left-backs, I left him (Shaw) out of the 23 as we had 24 players at the time.
“As it turns out now we can’t use him.”
Hodgson said he understood the rule about naming his squad, but had hoped UEFA would show some flexibility to allow him to recall Shaw after Baines’s injury occurred less than half an hour after the deadline to submit the 23 names.
He said: “I can’t pretend that I think it’s a great idea that you have to name 23 players almost 36 hours before the game because training injuries do occur and people do get injuries and fall sick.
“I would like to think that if you are allowed to have 23 players in your squad that you should at least have the right (to) a little bit longer than 36 hours ahead of the game.
“Having said that, I did know about the rule. My hope was that because we were only 25 minutes late when we applied to bring Luke back into the squad that maybe UEFA would look at that and say ‘it’s a reasonable request and we can show some flexibility’ but they decided that wasn’t possible, that the rule is the rule, and that 11 o’clock is the deadline and because the injury occurred 25 minutes past 11 we missed it.”
The quality of the Wembley pitch has been under scrutiny following bad weather and the NFL games played at the national stadium in recent weeks.
However, Hodgson opted to reserve his judgment on the surface until after the game against Slovenia.
“I suppose I have to have concerns after what has been written and all of the reports,” Hodgson said of the pitch.
“A lot of them are pretty negative, but as far as I’m concerned I’m just waiting to see.
“Gary (Neville) has been to see the pitch, so we have a pretty clear update of how it is.
“I’ve got to say his update was perhaps not as critical as some of the other reports I’ve read.
“But as far as I’m concerned we’re ready for the game and we will be ready for the game on whatever surface we play it. Any discussions about the pitch and how good or bad it is, I’ll leave until after the game.”
Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec has praised Wayne Rooney ahead of his 100th international cap – but intends to give the England captain an afternoon to forget during today’s European Championship qualifier.
The 29-year-old will become England’s latest centurion when he leads the team out at Wembley and will be presented with a golden cap on the pitch before kick-off to honour the achievement.
But Katanec, whose side are second in Group E as they look to defy the odds and reach Euro 2016 in France, wants it to be an occasion that Rooney will not remember fondly.
“I want to congratulate Wayne Rooney on playing his 100th cap,” he said.
“You have to play a lot of years to get that achievement but as far as our perspective goes we will try to make it a bad experience for him.
“It is just a number – I don’t look if he will play 100 or whatever, I don’t care about this a lot. It is great when you reach so many games but no more than that. I hope that Wayne’s game will not be as good as most of his other games.
“It does not only lean on one man but he is an awesome player, a great scorer and all-round football player. He developed really well from the age of 18 when he was a bit problematic as a personality but he has settled down now.”
Slovenia’s own captain Bostjan Cesar will become the country’s record cap-holder when he makes his 81st appearance.