England manager Roy Hodgson explains selections and plays down Andy Carroll injury fears

 

England boss Roy Hodgson has no worries about the fitness of striker Andy Carroll.

Sam Allardyce has slapped a 'handle with care' notice on the West Ham forward, who has only just returned from a hamstring injury.

Such is the high regard Hodgson has for the 23-year-old forward, he has named him in his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland on the back of that single substitutes' appearance at QPR on Monday.

And he expects the player to be somewhere close to full fitness by the San Marino encounter at Wembley on October 12.

"Andy played 23 minutes including injury-time on Monday and I am expecting him to play more minutes on Saturday against Arsenal, either from the start or coming on," said Hodgson.

"He has another week after that so I don't think there is any reason for me to question his fitness."

Whereas Carroll is returning to the England fold, Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster is included for the first time.

The rare - in recent times - example of someone based in the Scottish Premier League being selected for the Three Lions is overshadowed by the introductions of Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs and Stoke's Ryan Shawcross and a recall for Aaron Lennon, plus a promise Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson is being looked at very closely.

Gibbs already has two caps from Wembley friendlies against Hungary and France in 2010.

Shawcross received his only previous call-up from Fabio Capello a couple of months before.

However, the Stoke man clearly did not do enough to prompt the Italian to hand him his debut against Egypt, or ever pick him again.

Hodgson clearly wants to take another look, particularly as Tottenham's Steven Caulker, along with Birmingham keeper Jack Butland and rising Liverpool star Raheem Sterling, are remaining on Under-21 duty for their European Championship play-off against Serbia.

By a strange quirk of fate, the last of Lennon's 19 caps also came in 2010 in a tepid goalless draw with Algeria in Cape Town.

"Gibbs and Jenkinson have done exceptionally well for Arsenal," said Hodgson.

"Jenkinson was a player we thought a lot about but decided we didn't have quite that many places. He is certainly a player we will think about for the future.

"Gibbs, Lennon and Shawcross are players we need to see at closer hand.

"I have seen them from the stands but it will be nice to have a chance to work with them and see how they could contribute to the team we are trying to build up.

"There has to be some sort of rejuvenation process with the England team when a new coach comes in.

"I am very much aware that Brazil is two years down the road if we are good enough to get there.

"And in two years maybe these lads will be real stars in the Premier League."

Hodgson has retained a core of experience though.

With Steven Gerrard suspended, Frank Lampard seems certain to skipper England against San Marino next Friday, and there are plenty of others Hodgson feels are capable of shouldering the burden of responsibility.

Little wonder he wants to get away from the twin subjects of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.

"We have enough leaders," he said. "Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are the captain and vice-captain.

"We also have people like Phil Jagielka, Michael Carrick, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson. Who knows which of these younger players emerge as leaders.

"One can only hope there will be one or two who at the moment are in the early stages of their careers, who will emerge and show the same leadership qualities as John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard."

PA

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