Roy Hodgson warned Wilfried Zaha last night that he would not beg the young Ivory Coast-born prodigy to commit his international future to England and said that given the prestige associated with a call-up he would expect him to "get on a bicycle and cycle to the training session".
The England manager will tonight give debuts to 17-year-old Raheem Sterling of Liverpool, Tottenham's Steven Caulker and Leon Osman of Everton in the friendly against Sweden. Sterling will be only the second youngest player, after Wayne Rooney, to start a match for England since the Second World War.
As for Zaha, 20, who would still be eligible to play for Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, even if he is capped tonight in Stockholm, Hodgson said that he had been given assurances by the player that he will stick with England. Previously, Zaha has said publicly that he was "50-50" but he has turned down a chance to play for Ivory Coast in January's African Cup of Nations.
Hodgson said: "When people are called up I expect them to come running, get on a bicycle and cycle to the training session if they have to, then they shake hands with everyone and tell everyone how happy they are to be there. All this nonsense about players receiving phone calls and being enticed away, if they are going to be enticed away, they will be enticed away. But if they are being enticed away they are not the right player for us."
Hodgson conceded that Zaha "has time to change his mind", an option he retains until his 21st birthday providing he does not play in a World Cup qualifier for England. Hodgson said: "My conversation with him inviting him here was to make it clear: 'I am inviting you because I expect you to be an England player.'"
Hodgson said he told Zaha: "If you don't want to be an England player and you are not sure you want to be an England player then you are better off telling me and I will pick someone else. We don't stand or fall on you. "
The Arsenal full-back Carl Jenkinson could make it four England debuts in one game although the Football Association said last night it had still not received Fifa clearance that Jenkinson, formerly an Under-21 for Finland would be able to play. The FA has been assured the documents will come through in time.
Jack Wilshere will play some role tonight as a second-half substitute and Hodgson said he had allayed Arsène Wenger's fears about pushing the midfielder, recently returned from injury, too hard.
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