Football: England boss Roy Hodgson opted to bring Jack Wilshere back into the international fold today as he announced his squad for next week’s friendly with Sweden in Stockholm.
The Arsenal midfielder has not featured for his country since making his fifth appearance against Switzerland in June 2011.
But despite having just returned from 16 months on the sideline through injury, Wilshere is the stand-out pick in a squad skippered by Steven Gerrard, who will win his 100th cap.
Gerrard’s Liverpool team-mate Raheem Sterling has also been given the call and Hodgson insisted the move was not to head off interest from Jamaica.
He said: “He’s done extremely well for Liverpool. He burst onto the scene at the start of the season and has been ever-present in recent games.
“It has nothing to do with him being courted by anybody else. My views on that subject are clear — as far as I’m concerned a player should have the right to choose who he wants to play for.”
Sterling will be joined by Liverpool team-mate Jonjo Shelvey, who made his debut in the win over San Marino last month.
Celtic’s Fraser Forster will also be involved following his stellar performance in that sensational Champions League win over Barcelona at Parkhead on Wednesday.
The only completely new face is Leon Osman, who at 31, is finally rewarded for his consistency in Everton’s surge up the Premier League table.
Hodgson said: “He’s faced great competition in the position that he plays, but on this occasion we’ve got the opportunity and the space to bring Leon into the team.”
Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson is another who may be involved, but only if he receives Fifa clearance.
Jenkinson was a surprise omission from Hodgson’s 23-man squad when it was unveiled yesterday as previously the England boss had stated his intention to call on the 20-year-old.
Hodgson said: “The reason I didn’t include Carl from the start is because we haven’t, at this moment in time, got clearance from Fifa but we do believe that they are going to grant that clearance within a day or two.”
Jermain Defoe, Andy Carroll and Michael Carrick miss out as Hodgson considers other options, but Ashley Young returns from injury to the squad that will meet up on Sunday and train in Manchester ahead of travelling to Stockholm for the game, which is the official opening of the new Friends Arena.