Roy Hodgson has warned Jack Wilshere not to expect him to "show loyalty" if the midfielder has not fully recovered from his broken foot before the England manager names his World Cup squad on 13 May.
Wilshere is facing a race to prove his fitness after scans revealed he had suffered a hairline fracture to the top of his left foot in a challenge with Daniel Agger 12 minutes into England's 1-0 win against Denmark on Wednesday.
The Arsenal midfielder played until the 59th minute, after extensive treatment on the pitch during the first half, and a scan at Wembley concluded with the Football Association's medical staff telling him there was only bruising. A second x-ray took place morning, after he had complained of the pain worsening overnight, and this time it found the damage.
He will need six weeks of rehabilitation even before he can return to training and Hodgson had made it clear before leaving Wembley that he does not want to repeat the mistakes of previous England managers by taking players to a major tournament if they are not fully fit.
"With the amount of people knocking quite heavily on the door it would be a bit sad to leave out someone who is 100% fit and in fantastic form if someone else wasn't fit and might just recover during the tournament," Hodgson said. "One thing I can tell you is that I don't think any player would expect that, or for me to show loyalty, at a time when they are not 100% fit to go there and not do a good job over someone who is fit and can do a good job."
Wilshere's latest setback in an injury-ravaged career is a considerable blow to Arsenal's hopes of finishing the season with a first piece of silverware since 2005 and Arsène Wenger, despite his close friendship with Hodgson, is unlikely to be impressed with the FA's treatment of his player. There is the possibility of a compensation issue.
Wenger will give his reaction at his weekly Friday press conference while Wilshere returns to the treatment room, knowing that if he cannot even resume training until late April there has to be a significant risk of him not making Hodgson's final cut.
"Following initial scans carried out by the FA on Wednesday night, further investigation by Arsenal's medical team has discovered a crack to a small bone in Jack's left foot – the navicular, an area of his foot which has not been previously injured," a statement from Arsenal read. "Jack will now require a period of approximately six weeks' rehabilitation, before starting to regain his match fitness."
Hodgson admitted after the game that he had feared the worst when he saw Wilshere in obvious pain, and the England manager was asked whether he could afford to take players to a major tournament, as he had Scott Parker in Euro 2012, when they were carrying injuries or not fully fit. "The answer to the question is obvious," he replied. "One hopes one wouldn't do that."
That leaves Wilshere with very little time to regain full fitness and match sharpness at a time when the competition for midfield places looks stronger than at any other time of the Hodgson era. Jordan Henderson's return to the team meant Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick did not play a single minute of Wednesday's game. Tom Cleverley, whose name was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd, did not feature either and Ross Barkley must have concerns that his chances of selection are dwindling.
Wilshere, speaking before his second scan, had admitted he cannot take anything for granted. "Definitely not," the 22-year-old said. "I definitely don't feel that I'm a definite on the plane. I've got a lot of work to do before May. I have to stay fit, that's the most important thing, and then we will see what happens. You've seen the players that have come in to the team, and everyone wants to impress."