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Walcott withdraws from England friendly

ESPN staff
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Theo Walcott is out for England © PA Photos
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Arsenal's Theo Walcott has pulled out of the England squad for Wednesday's friendly against Italy with a bruised thigh.

The Arsenal forward reported for duty on Monday suffering from a bruised thigh, and the problem has not eased enough for coach Roy Hodgson to believe it is worthwhile for him to make the trip to Berne.

"Walcott reported with a slightly bruised thigh and was unable to train fully, so has returned to his club as a precaution," a statement on the FA website said.

Walcott's Arsenal colleague Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart and Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge are the other three players to have withdrawn from contention for the match.

But Hodgson has opted not to bring in any replacements other than City's Joleon Lescott, who was called up on Monday.

His decision means that Norwich's John Ruddy or Jack Butland of Birmingham - the Team GB keeper at the London Olympics - will make their England debut, with the possibility that they will play half the game each.

Butland said it would be a "dream come true" if he makes his senior debut. The 19-year-old, who played 24 first team games on loan a Cheltenham last season, added: "Unfortunately it's come - or hopefully will come - due to an injury, which is unfortunate for Joe, but if I get the chance it will be a dream come true.

"It's something I can't stop thinking about, and I'd love the chance to be able to perform on that stage on Wednesday night."

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