Walcott and Johnson set for England squad recall
Capello builds for future with a new-look young side as James makes way for Foster
Thursday 05 August 2010
England manager Fabio Capello is to recall both Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott for next week's friendly against Hungary and may also select the young Arsenal pair of Jack Wilshere and Kieron Gibbs as he seeks to inject fresh life into the side that flopped so badly at the World Cup.
David James will be dropped from the squad, though, and the veteran goalkeeper, who celebrated his 40th birthday last Sunday, looks set to be the highest profile casualty of England's poor showing in South Africa, despite having started three of the four games in the tournament.
Walcott was rather surprisingly omitted from the final 23-man squad for the World Cup after starting both of the two warm-up games against Mexico and Japan. He was reported to have angered Capello with his performances in those matches but will be handed a rapid chance to redeem himself.
Johnson made his England debut in the final minutes of the Mexico game and with a couple of nice touches showed why the England manager had identified him as a rising talent in March.
There may also be places in the squad for Wilshere and Gibbs, although that will depend on how many of Capello's regular players are withdrawn by their clubs over the weekend. Wilshere, Gibbs, Walcott, Johnson and defender Micah Richards were all yesterday left out of the England Under-21 squad to face Uzbekistan in a friendly at Bristol City's Ashton Gate on Tuesday night.
James's place in the squad is to be taken by Ben Foster, who moved from Manchester United to Birmingham City in May for £6m after growing frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities at Old Trafford. Foster, 27, has four England caps and will join Robert Green and Joe Hart in the squad.
James is not the only member of England's World Cup squad who is likely to be omitted against Hungary. Emile Heskey of Aston Villa announced his retirement from international football last month, while Liverpool's Jamie Carragher and his fellow defender Ledley King of Tottenham Hotspur are also set to miss out.
King's Tottenham team-mate Michael Dawson looks certain to step into the squad, while Fulham striker Bobby Zamora, who was in the running for the initial World Cup squad but then succumbed to an Achilles injury, could also be called up.
Capello's decision to leave out James, who recently signed a one-year deal with Championship side Bristol City, effectively brings his England career to an end after 13 years. James had recently expressed his hope that he might be able to continue with England despite dropping to the Championship. Last weekend he said: "I'll never retire from England, and hopefully my performances at Bristol City will keep me on the radar."
Capello and his assistant Franco Baldini are to watch six of the top seven teams in England in a whistle-stop tour of the leading clubs this week before the England squad meets up.
Capello is expected to watch Liverpool play FK Rabotnicki at Anfield in the Europa League tonight, and then tomorrow he will travel to Aston Villa to observe their friendly with Valencia. On Saturday Capello and Baldini will watch two games between them, with one heading to White Hart Lane to see Tottenham take on Fiorentina and the other travelling to Eastlands for Manchester City's friendly with Valencia.
The England squad for the Hungary game is announced on Saturday evening. On Sunday Capello will be at Wembley to see Chelsea play Manchester United in the Community Shield.
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