England's Ox targets return
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (AFP)
Rio de Janeiro - When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's right knee buckled under the weight of a tackle, the England midfielder left the pitch fearing he might miss the World Cup.
"With the timing of the injury, I did worry and fear the worst," he said, discussing the incident for the first time.
"But from the scan results, and from everything the medical team have said, I got away quite lucky really."
He sustained the injury in England's penultimate World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador 11 days ago following a challenge by Carlos Gruezo.
"As he's rolled into the side of my knee it went inwards," Oxlade-Chamberlain recalled.
"It opened up the ligament into a position where your knee shouldn't really go. That's where the damage happened ... and I actually sat in the scanner with the fingers crossed on both my hands for the whole 25 minutes.
"At the end I couldn't feel my fingers. After I came out our doc saw the scan results and was pretty happy with them, considering what they'd feared."
Oxlade-Chamberlain's recovery is exceeding expectations after staying in England's 23-man squad in Brazil, and there remains a chance he could be fit for the second game against Uruguay on Thursday. Another injection of youthful pace in the team could help England recover from its losing start in Group D on Saturday when Italy won 2-1 in Manaus.
"Considering when the injury was, I'm really happy — as are the medical team — with how it's progressed," the Arsenal player said. "I'm doing some good fitness work ... we'll keep pushing it, not too quickly, obviously."
Oxlade-Chamberlain remains "hopeful" about being fit for the Uruguay game.
"There is nothing set in stone and I can't say whether I will definitely be back or not," Oxlade-Chamberlain said. "We just know we are very positive about it. We are going to keep pushing and keep working towards it."
Oxlade-Chamberlain has had to grow accustomed to dealing with injury setbacks, having missed five months last season after damaging ligaments in his left knee.
"Sometimes something that seems quite innocuous can set you back five months," he said. "But I knew (this injury) wasn't as bad as the other injury I'd had earlier on my knee."
And Oxlade-Chamberlain is confident he can recapture the bright form when he returns to competitive actually — hopefully — in Brazil.
Returning from short-term injuries, he said, "it's easier to hit the ground running."