Parker boost for England


London – Scott Parker is fit for England's final Euro 2012 warm-up against Belgium on Saturday, handing coach Roy Hodgson a much-needed boost after his midfield was ravaged by injury.

Experienced duo Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry have both been ruled out of this month's tournament in Ukraine and Poland and British media reports had said Parker was a doubt with a nagging Achilles problem.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: Captain Scott Parker of England shows his dejection next to team-mate James Milner after Arjen Robben of Netherlands scored their third goal in the international friendly match between England and Netherlands at Wembley Stadium on February 29, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

“No not particularly,” Hodgson told a news conference on Friday when asked if Parker's fitness troubled him ahead of their Group D opener against France in Donetsk on June 11.

“He is available to play tomorrow. By the time we play France, people will be in good physical shape.”

Hodgson, who has drafted Jordan Henderson into the squad to replace Lampard, hinted that Parker would partner captain Steven Gerrard in midfield against Belgium while Chelsea defenders Ashley Cole, John Terry and Gary Cahill will all start.

The trio joined the England squad late following their Champions League final triumph.

Hodgson said he had yet to decide on his wingers and forwards for the Belgium game at Wembley, suggesting he is not certain of his team to face France either.

Uncapped Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the 'wild card' pick in the squad, is even in contention.

“He is working well, training hard. He has as much chance as anyone else of getting in the team. He is there to play,” added Hodgson, who was only appointed last month after Fabio Capello's resignation. – Reuters

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