If Callum McManaman's inclusion in the England Under-21 squad for this summer's European Championship finals in Israel is reward for running into form at the right time, the absence of his FA Cup final opponent Jack Rodwell illustrates how quickly fortunes can change for the worse.
McManaman has only become a regular starter for Wigan Athletic in the past two months and is uncapped at Under-21 level. He has been closely monitored during that period by the head coach Stuart Pearce, and after being named official man of the match in Saturday's final, he was picked in the squad of 23.
"I've made it my business over the last six weeks to have a real good look at Callum," Pearce said. "I think he's finding his confidence now, he's been nurtured very well by Wigan. He came on the international scene a few years ago at Under-20 level, now he's found form at the right time, just before a major championship."
Last autumn Rodwell was regarded as a key member of the squad and would have been expected - if not expecting - to go to the summer tournament just as he did in 2009 and 2011. Then he injured a hamstring in the first leg of the play-off against Serbia and was out for three months. Since returning in January he has played only a handful of games for Manchester City and after coming on as a substitute at Wembley was fingered by some observers for allowing Ben Watson to head the winning goal. Regularly fast-tracked through the various England age-groups, he won two senior caps while with Everton in 2011, but has not progressed since joining City for £12m last summer.
Tottenham's Danny Rose and Blackpool's Tom Ince are banned from the opening game against Italy in Tel Aviv three weeks today following wild scenes at the end of the second leg against Serbia, after England's players received racial abuse throughout from the home crowd. Southampton's left-back Luke Shaw has therefore been called up as cover for Rose.
Pearce is disappointed that Liverpool's Raheem Sterling is not considered fit for the finals. He must also do without several established players still eligible for the Under-21s who will instead go to Brazil with Roy Hodgson's seniors three days before the tournament starts. They include Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Danny Welbeck and the 19 year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Those going to Israel who have full caps are the captain Jordan Henderson, goalkeeper Jack Butland, Steven Caulker, Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Zaha.
England, who have won their last nine games without even conceding a goal, are the only country to have qualified for the past four tournaments, all under Pearce. They reached the semi-final six years ago and the final in 2009 but were eliminated in the final group match two years ago when the Czech Republic scored twice in the last two minutes. England will also play the hosts Israel and Norway, the other group being composed of the holders Spain, Netherlands, Germany and Russia.
England squad for Under-21 European Championship
Goalkeepers - Butland (Stoke), Steele (Middlesbrough), Rudd (Norwich)
Defenders - Caulker (Tottenham), Clyne (Southampton), Dawson (West Brom), Lees (Leeds), Rose (Sunderland, loan from Tottenham), Shaw (Southampton), Smith (Tottenham Hotspur), Wisdom (Liverpool)
Midfielders - Chalobah (Watford, loan from Chelsea), Henderson (Liverpool), Ince (Blackpool), Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Lowe (Blackburn), McEachran (Chelsea), McManaman (Wigan Athletic), Shelvey (Liverpool), Townsend (QPR, loan from Tottenham)
Forwards - Zaha (Crystal Palace, loan from Manchester United), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Connor Wickham (Sunderland).
- More about:
- Crystal Palace FC
- Liverpool FC
- Manchester City
- Nottingham Forest
- Premier League
- Southampton Fc
- Sunderland FC
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Wigan Athletic