England manager Roy Hodgson has named Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney in his England squad for the games against Montenegro and Poland at Wembley next week. Rooney is joined by United team mates Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, and Tom Cleverley.
Rooney had earlier been passed fit to play this weekend at Sunderland for United despite missing their Champions League fixture in midweek with a swollen shin.
Hodgson confirmed that Rooney would be available but remained cautious after a spate of bad luck in the forward positions during England’s last internationals: “We’re reliably informed that Rooney’s injury is not serious.
“I was pretty excited before the last two important games. There was a lot of goals in Sturridge and Rooney but we lost them. We’ve also lost Defoe to a second yellow card.
“I’ve quite often had a smile on the Thursday only to have it wiped off by the time Sunday comes round.”
Ashley Young didn’t make the squad but Hodgson was keen to avoid suggestions that the United winger had been dropped. He said: “I don’t like to use the word dropped because there’s only a certain number of players I can pick. At the moment with this 23 I’ll stick with the players I’ve got.”
Manchester City ‘keeper Joe Hart is also included in the squad following a series of high profile mistakes for cub and country although Hodgson has recently reiterated the priority for experience in the crucial qualifiers next week. Hart is joined by club-mate James Milner.
The inevitable questions about Hart’s recent mistakes led to questions about his place in the team.
Hodgson quickly leapt to Hart’s defence: “He obviously went through a bad period last night because he let in three goals and some people think he should have saved two of them.
“I’m not blind to the situation. I realise its not a good moment for Joe. He’s a proud man and a good goalkeeper. I still believe strongly in Joe Hart and I think he’s the right man for the job and he won’t let England down.
“A goalkeeper who lets a goal in which people think he should have saved is very much in the firing line when it comes to criticism.
“It’s easier to criticise a goalkeeper for a mistake than it is to criticise the midfielder whose mistake a couple of moments earlier has led to the chance.
“These things happen and it’s a fact of life.
“I have every confidence and faith in Joe that he will put this behind him.
“He kept a clean sheet against Moldova and Ukraine. We’ve let in three goals in eight games. It would need a very bad run before we would consider replacing him.
“If you look at the goalkeepers we have [selected in the squad] he’s clearly the number one.
There is no place for former City midfielder Gareth Barry despite a sterling start to his Everton career although promising midfielder Ross Barkley is included along with United summer target Leighton Baines.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere.
Strikers: Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck.