The caretaker England manager, Stuart Pearce, is expected to give a group of young players an opportunity to impress for the senior team when he names his squad this morning for the friendly against the Netherlands next Wednesday.
Pearce has spent the last few days contacting a number of the more experienced England players to tell them they will not be in the squad for next week's friendly at Wembley Stadium. His openness about his intentions has been welcomed by many of the players who were never spoken to directly by the former manager Fabio Capello.
However, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Arsenal winger, will not be named in Pearce's squad. The caretaker manager feels that the 18-year-old has not played enough game for Arsenal to be given his first call-up to an England senior squad.
The Football Association is guarding closely the names in the squad to the extent that it will only contact clubs this morning to tell them which of their players have been included in the group. While Pearce is understood to be keen to give a number of young players a chance, he is not about to turn his back entirely on the experienced core of senior players, as was reported in some quarters yesterday. Wayne Rooney is expected to be given a recall, having been left out of the November friendlies because of his two-game suspension at the start of Euro 2012 this summer. It is the first time an England manager has held a press conference to name a squad – outside of those for international tournaments – since Peter Taylor took charge for the friendly against Italy more than 11 years ago. Capello's preference was to release the squad late on a Sunday, or occasionally Saturday, night when he had assessed injuries to players.
Pearce has already told Jermain Defoe, Joleon Lescott, Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka, Peter Crouch and Bobby Zamora that they will not be considered for today's squad. John Terry, whose removal from the captaincy precipitated Capello's resignation earlier this month, is injured.
Among the players up for consideration for Pearce are a number of those who have graduated from his Under-21s team. As far as the uncapped contingent goes, Cleverley, who made his return from injury for United against Ajax last week, may feature.
The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Kyle Walker should all have a chance.
Jack Rodwell played in the two November friendlies against Spain and Sweden, but has since been restricted by a hamstring problem to just 103 minutes of football for Everton.
Micah Richards, who played under Pearce when he managed Manchester City, may also be due a call back from the international wilderness, provided the injury he picked up last night against Porto in the Europa League does not prove too serious.
Whether Pearce picks Andy Carroll will be another interesting subplot. The Liverpool striker has recaptured some form with two goals in his last four games. However, it was his past refusal to join up with Pearce's Under-21s squad to be checked by FA doctors that led to Capello delaying his debut for the senior squad in 2010.
Pearce will also be conscious that this is an audition for the job on a long-term basis, although he remains a rank outsider to be Capello's permanent successor. Nevertheless, the FA chairman, David Bernstein, did not rule out the possibility in his press conference earlier this month. The Club England management board continues to go about its appointment process in the very deepest, most impenetrable secrecy.
With all Capello's Italian staff having left with him, Pearce will be assisted next week by the goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence and former Southampton manager Steve Wigley.
Three of a kind: Trio of Pearce beneficiaries
Micah Richards Although Stuart Pearce gave Richards his debut at City in 2005, this campaign has been a breakthrough season: he has made himself indispensable, an automatic choice at right-back and one of City's best attacking players. Few full-backs combine his pace and strength.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain One of the brighter sparks at Arsenal this campaign has justified the attention and expense in his first season at the club. Has impressed with how relaxed he looks on the big stage. His first touch, eye for goal and bullish physique have earned comparisons with Wayne Rooney.
Wayne Rooney The Manchester United forward's form for his country has been as fitful as for his club – scoring just three times in two and a half years as he struggled for a regular partner. Could be made captain, having led the side against Brazil in 2009 – though is banned for first two games at the Euros.Reuse content