Berahino finally makes Hodgson’s senior Three Lions cut
Roy Hodgson has finally called up 21-year-old West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino for his England squad to face Slovenia at Wembley in a Euro 2016 qualifier, followed by an away ‘friendly’ with Auld Enemy Scotland. He will be aiming for his first cap.
Burundi-born Berahino has lit up the Premier League this season, smashing in seven goals in 10 games, including against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool. He had previously been utilised in the England Under-21s set-up, scoring 10 times in qualification, but, with the Young Lions now through to the finals in the Czech Republic, he is free to link up with the seniors.
On Berahino, Hodgson said: “He’s played so well not only for West Brom but also for the Under-21s. He’s been in such good form. There was no reason to pass over his credentials.
“When you call players up, you call them up to play,” he added. “I’m sure Saido will come wanting to play, but he faces stiff competition and he understands that. He’s not just there for the learning process, but he hasn’t made it to Wayne Rooney status.”
Hodgson has also decided to recall midfield quartet Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Stewart Downing and Theo Walcott. Manchester United defending duo Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, meanwhile, return to the senior side.
West Ham United’s Downing, who has created the joint-second highest scoring chances in the Premier League (28) behind only Cesc Fabregas, will get the chance to add to his 34 caps for the first time since 2012.
There are no notable absentees from the last squad, besides Fabian Delph (injured) and Jonjo Shelvey (dropped). Another England Under-21 star, Harry Kane, though, will be disappointed to have missed out. The Spurs striker has netted nine in all competitions this season so far for his club, but Rickie Lambert has been picked ahead of him.
On Kane’s omission, Hodgson added: “We look at all players. I’m pleased for Harry Kane. On this occasion Harry will play for the Under-21s, but if he keeps playing well, it won’t be long before he’ll be knocking on the door for a place in the senior squad.”
England are 5/1 chances to win all their remaining Group E games of Euro 2016 qualification with Coral, in a pool that also includes Lithuania, Switzerland, Estonia and San Marino.
Hodgson’s men (14/1 to be champions in France) host Slovenia on November 15th, and then travel to Celtic Park against bitter rivals Scotland in the oldest international fixture in footballing history.
The duo first met in 1972 at Hamilton Crescent, also in Glasgow, with the scoreline ending 0-0. This next encounter will be the 112th head-to-head between England and Scotland, and the first in over a year.
England’s 26-man squad
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling (both Man Utd)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Man Utd), Stewart Downing (West Ham United), Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana (both Liverpool), James Milner (Man City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott (both Arsenal)
Strikers: Rickie Lambert (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Daniel Welbeck (Arsenal), Saido Berahino (West Brom)