Football: Warhurst jumps the queue to fill striking vacancy: Still no room for the wiles of Waddle as Taylor persists with Barnes for World Cup trip to Turkey

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IT has been a long time since the halcyon days of Springett, Swan and 'Bronco' Layne, but Sheffield Wednesday are the team of the moment, and it should have been no surprise to find them the focus of attention yesterday, when England announced their squad for the next of the World Cup qualifiers, away to Turkey on 31 March.

It was a sign of changing times that matters Hillsborough, not Highbury, dominated the discussion after Graham Taylor's nomination of the 23 to travel to Izmir. Paul Warhurst, that most reluctant of strikers, was in, and David Hirst, for whom he is deputising, was not. To the amazement of no one, but the regret of many, there was again no place for Chris Waddle, whose unrivalled service has made the pair of them.

First things first. Stuart Pearce, who is injured, and Trevor Steven, who is not, are omitted from the squad selected for the walk-over against San Marino. Warhurst is drafted in, along with Lee Sharpe, who was originally on stand-by last time, as was Nigel Martyn, who also makes the trip as goalkeeping back-up for Chris Woods and David Seaman.

Warhurst has, on the manager's admission, come from nowhere, jumping the queue at the expense of Brian Deane, who was called up for the San Marino game when Alan Smith had to withdraw, but now finds himself relegated back to the ranks of the fingers-crossed replacements.

Wednesday's defender-turned-striker owes his first appearance to the spate of injuries which removed Alan Shearer and Hirst from contention, and again threaten the availability of Ian Wright.

In such distressed circumstances, Taylor was only too happy to call on a striker averaging a goal a game over his last 12 appearances.

Warhurst is still a new boy at the finishing school, but his success since Wednesday pushed him forward in extremis has been such that Hirst is temporarily restricted to the bench.

Taylor saluted the newcomer's emergence with a question. 'Who, six months ago, would have said Paul Warhurst is going to be in the England squad as a front player?' Getting no response, he articulated what his audience was thinking. 'I certainly wouldn't'

The selection was no more than a stop-gap, surely? 'I can't say it will be long term, but when you've scored 17 goals, as Paul has this season, you haven't done it by luck. He's exceptionally quick off the mark, strikes the ball well with both feet, and he's hitting the target regularly. I want to have a look at him at close quarters, within the squad.'

Warhurst, 23, has played for the under-21s as a central defender, but it is his new-found expertise rather than versatility which has brought him recognition at senior level.

'He can play in other positions, but he's in as a striker,' Taylor said. 'Perhaps that will stop him being so reluctant to play there.

'He can't be considered the finished article, but he is scoring some exceptional goals, and he is doing things that front players do naturally. There are things he can't do at all, and then you can see why he hasn't played up front before, but he compensates with his goalscoring record.

'All credit to Trevor Francis for seeing that potential in him. He backed his judgement, now I'm backing mine.'

Francis' judgement would also have Waddle back in the England team, but here Taylor cannot agree. 'Chris Waddle is playing well,' he conceded. 'It would be silly for me not to say that.'

Not well enough, though, to gain preference over John Barnes, whose performance against San Marino was so profoundly disappointing that the crowd took to booing his every touch.

Barnes and Waddle were different types, Taylor argued, to sceptical looks all round. 'Barnes will play on the left, and that gives me the balance I need. I've been short of left-sided players.'

Waddle, he accepted, is left footed. Why the man will not come out with it and say, in managerspeak, that he does not fancy the best winger in the country is as much of a mystery as his preference for a player whose stamina he continues to query at every turn.

In the squad or not, the Liverpool enigma is unlikely to play in Izmir, where his omission for Paul Ince will probably be the only change.

ENGLAND SQUAD (v Turkey, World Cup Group Two, Izmir, 31 March): Woods (Sheffield Wednesday), Seaman (Arsenal), Martyn (Crystal Palace); Dixon (Arsenal), Bardsley (Queen's Park Rangers), Dorigo (Leeds Utd), Walker (Sampdoria), Adams (Arsenal), Pallister (Manchester Utd), Platt (Juventus), Batty (Leeds), Palmer (Sheff Wed), Ince (Man Utd), Gascoigne (Lazio), Merson (Arsenal), Barnes (Liverpool), Sinton (QPR), Sharpe (Man Utd), Smith (Arsenal), Warhurst (Sheff Wed), Clough (Nottm Forest), Wright (Arsenal), Ferdinand (QPR). Stand-by players: Flowers (Southampton); Jobson (Oldham), Beresford (Newcastle), Barrett (Aston Villa), Deane (Sheffield Utd).

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