Football: Leon Osman saluted centurion-to-be Steven Gerrard today as a "fantastic player and a leader of men" who deserves to join England's exclusive 100 club.
Gerrard is tonight waiting for the results of a scan on his knee which is the only obstacle to him becoming the sixth Englishman to reach 100 caps in Wednesday's friendly against Sweden.
The 32-year-old will join Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright in the England pantheon.
Everton's Osman first encountered his Liverpool midfield rival almost two decades ago at youth level and feels this latest honour will be richly deserved.
"It is fantastic to get to 100 caps," said the Everton midfielder. "There is only a select band that has managed to do it and Steven deserves to be in that crew.
"He is a fantastic player and a leader of men. We first played against each other on Merseyside when we were 12 or 13.
"To see him now get to his 100th cap is fantastic but not surprising."
After years of Merseyside rivalry Wednesday will be the first time Osman and Gerrard play on the same team.
The Evertonian has had to wait until 31 for a belated England call-up but he said he "didn't give up hope."
"I hoped my time hadn't passed me by," he said. "As an English lad I had a desire to play for my country and I was hopeful it might happen."
A contemporary of Joe Cole at England Under-15 level, Osman's career has largely gone under the radar.
But with Everton soaring to fourth in the table after a superb start to the season, Roy Hodgson decided it was time to look at a player who has made over 300 appearances for his only professional club.
"I hope I can be an inspiration," he said. "It just shows if you keep believing, concentrate on your form and make sure that is good, you may one day get recognised."
He compared himself to Scott Parker, who was handed a fourth cap in 2011 - and a subsequent place at Euro 2012 - four-and-a-half years after winning his third cap.
"I seem to have developed late in the game as well," said Osman. "I didn't make my debut until I was 21 and didn't stay in the first team until I was 23."
He still has a bit of work to do to win a place because central midfield remains heavily congested despite five withdrawals last night and uncertainty over Gerrard's fitness.
Osman is battling against Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley and Tom Huddlestone, one of three players called up as a late replacement.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha was another.
Osman said the 20-year-old "trained this morning, was direct and skilful and was committing people. He looks the real deal."
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