Fabio Capello last night picked Sir Alex Ferguson’s emergent young Manchester United defender Phil Jones in his first senior England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria on Friday and Wales four days afterwards.
As well as Jones, Capello also picked Tom Cleverley in a first-choice England squad for the first time – Cleverley was a late call up to the squad for the cancelled Holland friendly last month – as well as Chris Smalling, all of whom played in United’s 8-2 victory over Arsenal yesterday. Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young make up the five-strong United contingent in the squad.
Jones and Cleverley had both been named previously in Stuart Pearce's under-21s squad for the games against Azerbaijan and Israel but on the basis that Capello may promote them if he saw fit. In the absence of Glen Johnson, Smalling looks favourite to start the Bulgaria game at right-back.
There has been no response from the Football Association to Ferguson’s claim on Friday that the governing body treat United “like shit” although there is no doubt that Capello will have to address the subject in his Thursday press conference in Sofia. He would surely have selected more United players had Danny Welbeck not limped out of yesterday’s game with a muscle problem. Rio Ferdinand would also have been included if he had played yesterday.
Capello is also missing Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere and Glen Johnson for what will be two defining games of the qualification campaign for Poland and Ukraine next summer following the draw with Switzerland in June. The squad do not meet until tonight at the Grove hotel in Hertfordshire. Among those he has left out are Peter Crouch, Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon, all of Tottenham.
There is a rare call-up for Manchester City right-back Micah Richards, one of six players from City in the squad, who has found himself largely on the outside during Capello’s time in charge of the national team. The team travel to Sofia on Thursday top of the qualifying group G on goal difference from Montenegro who they play in October in Podgorica. Montenegro play Wales on Friday.
The major debate in terms of team selection is who plays alongside Rooney in attack. Capello has only been able to pick Carroll twice since his emergence as a Premier League striker and is such an advocate of the Liverpool striker that he may well throw him straight back into the first team. Jermain Defoe scored a hat-trick against Bulgaria in the home fixture almost a year ago but has not scored since. He has fallen behind Darren Bent in the pecking order.Reuse content