Walcott named in World Cup squad

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The Independent Football

England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has included teenage striker Theo Walcott in his provisional 23-man World Cup squad alongside Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Aaron Lennon - but there are no places for Ledley King, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jermaine Defoe or Darren Bent.

Walcott, 17, has not played first-team football since his £12million move from Southampton in January but is regarded as one of the hottest talents in the game and Eriksson has decided to include him in his squad.

Manchester United forward Rooney's broken metatarsal is expected to rule him out of the start of the tournament but Eriksson decided to gamble on his talisman's fitness as expected.

Owen's prolonged recovery from a similar injury has severely limited his match practice and he will head to the finals having played only 31 minutes for his club since 31 December.

The tournament begins in Germany in 32 days with England's first match against Paraguay a day later on 10 June.

Eriksson is expected to also name a list of players on standby and will submit his final squad next Monday.

Lennon has enjoyed an excellent first season in the Premiership since joining Tottenham from Leeds in the summer with his explosive skills and developing maturity.

Wright-Phillips has been left out after a disappointing season which has seen his first-team opportunities limited since joining Chelsea from Manchester City last season.

Downing's inclusion rounds off a turbulent season for the left-winger which has been largely marred by injury, before his return to fitness which culminates on Wednesday when Middlesbrough face Sevilla in the UEFA Cup final.

King is struggling to recover from injury - also a fractured metatarsal - while Defoe has spent much of the season on the bench for Tottenham.

Provisional squad: Robinson (Tottenham), James (Manchester City), Green (Norwich), G Neville (Manchester United), R Ferdinand (Manchester United), Terry (Chelsea), A Cole (Arsenal), Campbell (Arsenal), Carragher (Liverpool), Bridge (Chelsea), Beckham (Real Madrid), Carrick (Tottenham), Lampard (Chelsea), Gerrard (Liverpool), Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Jenas (Totenham), Downing (Middlesbrough), J Cole (Chelsea), Lennon (Tottenham), Rooney (Manchester United), Owen (Newcastle), Crouch (Liverpool), Walcott (Arsenal).

Standby players: Scott Carson, Luke Young, Nigel Reo-Coker, Jermain Defoe, Andy Johnson.