Adam Johnson’s World Cup hopes are hanging by a thread after he was left out of Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad.
Johnson had been hoping for a call-up to Hodgson’s 30-man squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Denmark but has seen Andros Townsend of Tottenham and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain get the nod in the wide areas.
It is a considerable blow for a player who admitted it was “now or never” for him to convince Hodgson that he was worthy of a place in England’s plans for the World Cup.
Whether or not his performance in front of Hodgson last month, when Hull City visited the Stadium of Light, was a deciding factor is unclear. Wes Brown’s third minute dismissal meant that in-form Johnson was forced to play in a defensive role for much of that match.
Johnson is now left hoping for players to pull out. There are friendlies against Peru at the end of May and against Ecuador and Honduras in early June which he could yet earn call-ups for if he maintains his improved form between now and the end of the season.
And Hodgson’s comments last night indicated Johnson should not give up hope just yet, challenging those not included to work their way into his thinking.
“This is not the 30 from which the 23 will absolutely be chosen,” he said.
“It is possible for players who are not in there to push in. That is the message I’m keen to put over.
“It would be foolish in March to give a definitive 30-man squad. Anyone I might decide I want to take, if they are not in this 30, I am entitled to do that.”
Uncapped teenager Luke Shaw is joined in the squad by Southampton team-mates Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez as four Saints players make a senior England squad for the first time.
Hodgson is keen to see what the 18-year-old can do. “I think everyone who has watched him play recently will not deny that he deserves a place in a large squad like this,” he said.