England’s upcoming game against Sweden on Wednesday may only be a friendly, marking the opening of Sweden’s new national stadium, but with England finally breaking their 43-year wait for a win against them last November and backing that up with a vital win against them in Euro 2012, they’ll be sure they want to keep the victories coming.
Roy Hodgson’s team selection has a new look from the squad that faced Poland last month, with the exclusion of several key players due to injury and poor form.
Frasier Forster earns his first England call-up after being in scintillating form for Celtic’s stunning win over Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League last week. He’ll provide strong competition for regular Joe Hart, who’s had a slight lapse in form recently, at least compared to his usual standards. Forster may even get a look-in over Hart for the starting XI.
After Tottenham’s Kyle Walker dropped out due to injury, Carl Jenkinson joins the squad on the back of several solid performances for Arsenal (subject to international clearance from FIFA due to his appearances for Finland’s U21’s). Joining Jenkinson is Everton’s Leighton Baines, a player who is looking to cement his place in the first XI as Ashley Cole’s injury prevents him from joining the squad. Chelsea man Ryan Bertrand joins the team again as does his teammate Gary Cahill. Completing the defence is Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Ryan Shawcross and Steven Caulker.
In midfield, Steven Gerrard will be looking to earn his 100th cap for England, although this looks unlikely as he awaits results of a scan from an injury sustained in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Surprise inclusion Leon Osman looks to earn his first, at the age of 31. Osman has been in dazzling form for Everton and is looking to carry that into Wednesday’s friendly. Joining him is Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, who has been fast tracked to Liverpool’s first team this year and he, and England fans across the country, will be hoping that he can fulfil his potential in an England jersey. Another surprise inclusion is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. We haven’t seen Wilshere and England shirt since his appearance in the match against Switzerland in July 2011 and is returning from a lengthy injury absence. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger voiced his displeasure at Wilshere’s inclusion in the squad, and it is rumoured that both manager have reached an agreement saying that Wilshere will not start the game. Lennon, Shelvey and Walcott all pulled out with injuries so in steps Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone as Cleverley and Young also feature.
Rooney and Defoe, both injured, will not be in the squad for Wednesday. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha however will be. His amazing performances for Palace in the Championship earned him a call-up and will become the first outfield player outside the top-flight to feature in an England squad since Jay Bothroyd in 2010. Fighting for a place in the starting XI will be Chelsea’s Danny Sturridge and Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck.
Hodgson’s reltively young team will be relishing the chance to be able to show their capabilities on the international stage and it provides them with vital experience that will hopefully enable them to go on a push their careers to the next level, establishing themselves within the England ranks.
GK: Forster (Celtic), Hart (Man City), Ruddy (Norwich)
Def: Baines (Everton), Bertrand (Chelsea), Cahill (Chelsea), Caulker (Tottenham), Jagielka (Everton), Johnson (Liverpool), Shawcross (Stoke), Jenkinson (Arsenal).
Mid: Cleverly (Man Utd), Gerrard (Liverpool), Osman (Everton), Sterling (Liverpool), Wilshere (Arsenal), Young (Man Utd), Huddlestone (Tottenham).
Fwd: Sturridge (Chelsea), Welbeck (Man Utd), Zaha (Crystal Palace)