Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy in maiden England calls for Ireland friendly
Uncapped attacking duo Charlie Austin (QPR) and Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) have been rewarded for their Premier League exploits in the relegation battle with first-time call-ups to the England squad.
Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has decided to use the end of season friendly away to the Republic of Ireland to give these former non-league forwards opportunities to make international debuts.
— England (@england) May 21, 2015
England, who are 12/1 chances to win Euro 2016 with Coral, then play Slovenia in a qualifier.
“This is a strong squad and I’m pleased to welcome the three newcomers who get the chance because of the Under-21s and it gives them the opportunity to have a chance to see what they can do,” said Hodgson.
“They’ve had good seasons with their clubs in difficult circumstances. I hope we don’t lose too many more players and I am counting on all being available.”
With usual understudy keepers Ben Foster and Fraser Forster out injured, Hodgson has also handed a maiden call to Burnley number one Tom Heaton. The Manchester United academy product is joined by Austin’s Loftus Road teammate Robert Green, who went off with concussion in the Hoops’ win over Newcastle United, on the roster as cover for Joe Hart.
Just seven defenders are named in the squad with Tottenham pair Kyle Walker (injured) and Danny Rose missing out. First-choice left back Leighton Baines is also absent after undergoing surgery on his ankle.
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) and Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) will fight for that berth, while on the other flank of the England defence the former’s St Mary’s teammate Nathaniel Clyne can continue to establish himself.
Joining Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and Everton captain Phil Jagielka in central defence are rejuvenated Red Devils pair Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere, both still eligible to represent England at Under-21 level, are named in the senior squad with the latter returned from his latest injury setback.
Old Trafford anchorman Michael Carrick misses out with a calf problem, but Adam Lallana (Liverpool) and James Milner (Manchester City) are fit to play after missing the last internationals.
Lallana’s Anfield teammate Jordan Henderson and Reds contract rebel Raheem Sterling are retained, alongside Spurs pair Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend. Hodgson has offered support to Sterling, whose future with Liverpool is now shrouded in serious doubt.
“I’m always available for players,” he continued. “Raheem has been with us a long while and if he wanted to talk to me, that’s fine.
“As far as I am concerned a contract situation is between the player and the club and it is club business and I won’t be poking my nose into club business. I’d expect him to do the job he has always done for us.”
Harry Kane is on Under-21 duty, however, so will have to wait to build on his impressive senior outings. Hodgson also touched on the Young Lions, who have a tournament in the Czech Republic this summer.
“I’m pleased Gareth (Southgate, Under-21 manager) has had his presser and cleared up doubts about who is available,” Hodhson added.
Fabian Delph of Aston Villa complete Hodgson’s midfield choices with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remaining a long-term injury absentee.
With Daniel Sturridge sidelined until September, the Three Lions boss keeps captain Wayne Rooney and Arsenal attacker Danny Welbeck, but supplements them with uncapped Cinderella stories Austin and Vardy.
“We have always had our eye on Austin but up to this point we have had the full quota of forward players,” Hodgson said of QPR’s 17-goal striker. “But we now have space there because of the injury to Sturridge and we don’t have Kane, [Danny] Ings or [Saido] Berahino on this occasion.
“He will get an opportunity to shows us what he can do in training and in matches, though I can’t promise him a game. I am pleased to welcome him into the fold. I have heard good things about him and know he is a good player.”
England squad to face Republic of Ireland and Slovenia
Goalkeepers: Robert Green (QPR), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne (both Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones and Chris Smalling (both Manchester United)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana (both Liverpool), Ryan Mason (Tottenham), James Milner (Man City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Charlie Austin (QPR), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Spurs), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck (both Arsenal)