| Andriy Shevchenko, during practice on Monday |
Donetsk: Theo Walcott, England’s game-changer against Sweden, has been passed fit to play in the crucial group D contest against Ukraine, the host nation, on Tuesday.
The Arsenal winger was forced out of training on Sunday with a hamstring problem, two days after scoring in England’s 3-2 victory over Sweden and setting up Danny Welbeck for the winner with a penetrating run.
But Roy Hodgson, the manager, said at Monday afternoon that “he is fit for the game and luckily we don’t have any injury concerns”.
Walcott travelled to England’s training ground ahead of his teammates on as battled to get himself fit for the crunch match.
Hodgson revealed Sunday that Walcott was a doubt for after pulling out of training with a “tightness in his hamstring”.
Hodgson is mulling over whether to bring Walcott into his starting line-up, possibly in place of James Milner as England bid to secure the draw they need to reach the last eight.
Hodgson’s other major selection dilemma concerns his strikers, where either Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll — who both scored in the win over Sweden — will have to make way for Wayne Rooney, available after serving a two-game ban.
The England manager admitted the performances of Welbeck and Carroll, who have scored three goals between them in the last three games, had given him a welcome headache.
“It’s become a very difficult choice because both have done so well both in friendly matches before we came to the tournament, and the tournament itself,” Hodgson said.
“So they’ve given me the classic manager’s headache but it’s the headache we all want because it’s a case of players who are in form and playing well and competing for a place. But I have made it clear that Wayne Rooney will start so the decision has to be made.”
In an unusual move, both England and Ukraine were prevented from training on the Donbass Arena pitch as officials repaired the playing surface after the deluge which battered Friday’s match between France and the co-hosts.
Meanwhile, after spending the best part of half an hour attempting to put pressure on England, Oleg Blokhin gave the game away with a tantrum that revealed the co-hosts are under greater strain.
Repeated questioning regarding the fitness of Andriy Shevchenko, who is rated at “50-50” by the coach but considerably less by others who have spoken to the captain, was the immediate cause of Blokhin's outburst, although it could equally have been triggered by a number of other issues.
“Let’s call Shevchenko and ask Shevchenko,” said Blokhin, with increasing impatience. “I don’t have only Shevchenko in my team. I have 22 other players. Stop asking about Shevchenko. The subject is closed. It's 50-50. I will make a decision tomorrow.”
England need a draw against Ukraine to qualify for the quarter-finals.