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Oxlade-Chamberlain injury decision at last moment

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

By ROB HARRIS

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. (AP) England coach Roy Hodgson will take the decision on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's World Cup participation right down to the FIFA deadline.

England has until 24 hours before opening its campaign in Brazil against Italy on June 14 to decide whether to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 23-man squad.

The Arsenal midfielder sustained ligament damage in his right knee during England's 2-2 draw against Ecuador at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Wednesday.

After training ahead of Saturday's final warmup game against Honduras, Hodgson confirmed that the decision on Oxlade-Chamberlain would be taken "at the very, very last moment."

"I don't think it's a gamble at all," Hodgson said following training at Barry University. "At the moment we have 23 men, three goalkeepers and 20 outfield players. He was chosen for a reason. He fits in our balance.

"I don't think anyone we choose to replace him will give us anything additional to the squad. We're very anxious to keep him here."

Hodgson has indicated that he would consider keeping Oxlade-Chamberlain even if he was not fit until the group stage, which begins in three weeks.

"I'll have to listen to the doctors and see what he's likely to miss and when he's likely to be fit, but I won't be dashing out because he might not be fit for the first game," Hodgson said.

If the prognosis was serious, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be replaced by Jon Flanagan or John Stones, who have been in Miami despite not being in the 23-man squad. The defenders are not due to travel to Brazil with the team on Saturday night after the Honduras game,

"I'll alert them that, if the worst happens, I'll probably bring one of those two back," Hodgson said. "They're both fit men in top physical condition. But the chances, I hope, are very slim because we want to keep Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with us."

Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

Updated June 6, 2014

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