Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha has been called up to the senior England squad as a replacement for the injured Wayne Rooney by Roy Hodgson, who lost five players to injury on Sunday.
Rooney picked up an ankle injury in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Aston Villa and the decision was made to leave him behind yesterday as the Football Association and Hodgson worked late into the evening re-jigging the squad to face Sweden on Wednesday.
As well as Rooney, the England manager lost Theo Walcott, Jonjo Shelvey, Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon to injury. The FA took the unusual step of announcing last night that Hodgson would have picked Jermain Defoe but was unable to do so because he was injured. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would also have been included but was judged not to be match-fit. Instead the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tom Huddlestone and Arsenal’s Carl Jenkinson were called up.
Zaha, 20, was promoted from Stuart Pearce’s Under-21 squad, who had been preparing to play Northern Ireland at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night. A graduate of Palace’s academy he was one of a number of young English players whom Hodgson mentioned as future senior internationals last week.
Highly-regarded and interesting all the top Premier League clubs, Zaha, tweeted last night: “Wow, everything is happening so fast.”
He is also eligible to represent the Ivory Coast and said after Palace’s win over Peterborough on Saturday that he remained undecided over which country he would choose. “I just want to get settled, go through the January transfer and [see] whether I’m going to stay at Palace or move and then I’ll decide whether I want to go with England or Ivory Coast. I’m not sure yet,” Zaha said.
Huddlestone will make a return to the England squad for the friendly against Sweden more than two years after his last cap. The 25-year-old last played for England against Japan in Austria in build-up to the 2010 World Cup finals; part of Fabio Capello’s provisional squad he was not selected to go to the tournament.
Jenkinson has obtained clearance from Fifa to play for England having previously represented Finland, his mother’s country, at Under-21 level. He would have been called up as a late replacement to the last squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Poland but the Football Association discovered at the last minute that he did not have the necessary permission from the world governing body.
Jenkinson also signed a new five-year contract with Arsenal yesterday, securing his future at the club following his move from Charlton Athletic in the summer of last year. He has trained with the England squad before now but the trip to Sweden will be the first time he is eligible to play. He grew up speaking Swedish, learned from his mother, Hayde, who grew up in the Swedish speaking region of Finland.
There are also doubts over the fitness of Leighton Baines. Ashley Cole is already missing from the squad with an ankle injury.
Hodgson said that he would not start Jack Wilshere on Wednesday in respect of the midfielder’s delicate situation having just returned from a season long injury. Apart from Zaha, the England manager also named Andre Wisdom, Josh McEachran, Sammy Ameobi and Tom Ince as Under-21s players who had caught his eye. Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe have been rested from international duty this week.
Where it all began: Gerrard's first cap
Steven Gerrard will earn his 100th England cap in Wednesday's friendly against Sweden if he is passed fit by the national side's medical team following a knee problem sustained at Chelsea yesterday.
He made his international debut in a 2-0 win against Ukraine on 31 May 2000 at Wembley, starting in a five-man midfield named by manager Kevin Keegan. The game also marked Gareth Barry's first appearance in an England shirt and Alan Shearer's last at Wembley.
A promising display from Gerrard was cut short 10 minutes from time, limping off to be replaced by Kieron Dyer and forcing him out of the trip to Malta three days later. Gerrard then played only 29 minutes in Euro 2000, coming on as a sub in the 1-0 win against Germany.
Keegan said then: "Everything I've seen tells me he will shine at international level."
Here is what became of his team-mates who played against Ukraine:
Nigel Martyn (23 caps) Second fiddle to David Seaman for most of his career, despite playing against Romania in Euro 2000.
Phil Neville (59 caps) Made his debut in 1996, regularly filling in across the defence and midfield. Now at Everton.
Gareth Southgate (57 caps) Already an experienced member of the squad at the time, the centre-half retired from football in 2006.
Tony Adams (66 caps) Another experienced international.Made his final appearance in the last match at the old Wembley, a 1-0 defeat to Germany in 2000.
Sol Campbell (73 caps) An England debutant just prior to Euro '96. He remained a commanding figure for a decade, playing his last game in 2007.
David Beckham (115 caps) Made England captain later that year by Peter Taylor. Last cap in 2009.
Paul Scholes (66 caps) Retired from international football following Euro 2004. Made his debut in 1997, scoring 14 goals.
Steve McManaman (37 caps) A European Cup winner at Real Madrid at the time. Earned a only a handful of caps after Euro 2000.
Alan Shearer (63 caps) Made his debut in 1992 and scored 30 goals for England. Retired after Euro 2000 to focus on club football.
Robbie Fowler (26 caps) Regularly missed out on international starts despite natural ability, scoring seven goals over eight years.