The meteoric rise of Arsenal’s teenage defender Calum Chambers will continue when he is named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the friendly against Norway on Wednesday and the Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland five days later.
As well as Chambers, Fabian Delph, Danny Rose and John Stones will be called up for the squad. Delph, 24, has represented England Under-21s but has never been part of a senior squad before and the Aston Villa player’s inclusion is a direct consequence of a deficit of central midfielders. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have both retired from internationals. Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley and Michael Carrick are injured.
Rose, 24, will also be in an England senior squad for the first time. Highly experienced at Under-21 level, the Tottenham Hotspur left-back has been behind Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw and Kieran Gibbs for the senior team. Cole retired from international football before the World Cup and Shaw and Gibbs are both injured.
At 19, the biggest leap of all is for Chambers, a £16m signing from Southampton, who has never represented the Under-21s. Instead he has gone direct from the Under-19s with the blessing of the Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate, who has also missed out on the defender Stones for their games against Lithuania and Moldova. Ideally, the Football Association would prefer their young players to progress through the ranks but Chambers has exceeded expectations.
Hodgson has six centre-halves at his disposal with Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling also in the reckoning. Stones played twice for England in their warm-up games for the World Cup finals and made a big impression on Hodgson and his coaching staff.
The new additions demonstrate the changing nature of Hodgson’s squad after their disappointing World Cup. It remains to be seen whether Carrick, left behind for Brazil, is ever selected again. Liverpool’s Glen Johnson is also an injury doubt for the squad having picked up a problem against Manchester City on Monday.
Hodgson cannot afford to lose his first qualifier against Switzerland in Basel in 11 days’ time, arguably the toughest game of the group. Ticket sales for the home game against Norway have been at their lowest ebb for an England friendly since the new Wembley was opened in 2007, with 20,000 sold so far in addition to the 17,000 Club England season-ticket holders.
Around 12,000 tickets will need to be sold in the next week to break the record low attendance for England at the new stadium of 48,876 for a friendly against Sweden in 2011 and there is the possibility Wembley’s top tier will be shut for the first time for an international. An FA official said: “It is hard to say whether we will surpass the total figure who were here at the Sweden game in 2011. However what we will do is to continue to push on with further marketing and media campaigns promoting the game.”
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