Lennon set for England call after impressing Capello

Spurs winger's team-mate Woodgate also in line for return to national squad
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The Independent Online

Aaron Lennon is the next name on Fabio Capello's list as he searches for a long-term right-wing alternative to David Beckham, and the Tottenham winger should get his call-up for England's friendly against Slovakia next week and the subsequent World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.

Lennon has never been selected by Capello for an England squad but it is understood he is now at the forefront of the Italian coach's mind for the second right-wing place in the squad – behind Beckham – which should be announced on Saturday night. Capello is almost certain to pick Beckham and then has a decision to make on the other player for that position, with Lennon understood to be ahead of Shaun Wright-Phillips in his thinking.

Lennon was watched on Sunday by Capello's general manager, and right-hand man, Franco Baldini, and the England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce. The 21-year-old's performance was excellent once again and he would appear to have done enough to re-establish his international career almost three years after he was one of the surprise choices in Sven-Goran Eriksson's 2006 World Cup finals squad.

Capello is also considering recalling Lennon's team-mate Jonathan Woodgate to the England squad for the Slovakia game on 28 March and the game against Ukraine four days later.

Woodgate, 29, was left out of the squads for the matches against Germany and Spain because Capello chose to give opportunities to Michael Mancienne and Phil Jagielka. Now it looks like he will be the squad's fourth-choice centre-back after Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Matthew Upson. The England manager and his scouts have also been impressed with Ledley King, whose chronic knee problems have not restricted him as much as they have at times during his recent career. King, who does not train between matches, has played 15 games for Spurs since Harry Redknapp took over in October.

However, Tottenham have made it clear to the Football Association that they believe restarting King's international career would not be in the player's best interests.

It is Lennon who looks like he will be the interesting name in Capello's squad this weekend. He was last called up for England by former manager Steve McClaren in June 2007 to play in the friendly against Brazil at Wembley and the following Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia. On that occasion, Lennon withdrew from the squad injured having played for England 'B' at Turf Moor five days' earlier.

Lennon's last appearance for England was in McClaren's dark night at the Montjuic stadium in Barcelona on 28 March, 2007, when the team struggled to break down Andorra. Having made an impact at the 2006 World Cup finals, Lennon struggled with a knee injury that prevented him from fulfilling his earlier promise. Since Redknapp's arrival at Spurs he has been chosen ahead of David Bentley, who has not been picked by Capello for his last three squads.

*The FA wants England to be considered as World Cup hosts in 2022 as an alternative to the 2018 bid to stage the tournament. Countries were asked to declare their intention to bid for one of the two or prepare presentations to host either event. The FA submitted its application to Fifa headquarters yesterday and confirmed it was interested in both.

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