Manchester United duo Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand have been left out of England’s squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Spain and Sweden at Wembley.
As expected, England captain John Terry was included despite allegations that he racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, but coach Fabio Capello decided not to select Rooney as he needs to look at other attacking options ahead of Euro 2012 following the striker’s three-match ban for a red card against Montenegro.
Rooney hopes to have the ban reduced on appeal, but he will definitely miss at least two group matches, so Capello has handed a first call-up to Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge, while there is also a recall for in-form Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Sturridge (22) has scored five goals for Chelsea this season and started Saturday’s win at Blackburn.
“He’s an interesting player and a player who scores goals,” Capello said.
“I saw him play right wing, left wing and centre forward. He has improved a lot.”
Agbonlahor hasn’t played for England since 2009, but his presence means no place for Liverpool forward Andy Carroll, who has endured an inconsistent start to the campaign.
Like Carroll, Ferdinand has struggled for form and fitness this season and Capello has decided against picking the centre-back because he prefers to test out the likes of Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka.
With Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere and Ashley Young injured, there was also a first call-up for Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell.
Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson returns to the squad after injury at the expense of Manchester City’s Micah Richards.
It remains to be seen if Terry will face world champions Spain on Saturday following the storm over the Ferdinand incident, which has prompted FA and police investigations.
Capello hinted on Saturday that Terry may only play against Sweden as he wants to look at his back-up defenders against Spain’s world-class forwards.
Ferdinand will be asked to work on his fitness, whilst Rooney was told in a private meeting with Capello last Thursday that he will be excused duty and may, with United’s permission, attend an eventual Uefa hearing into the ban.
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Scott Carson (Bursaspor/TUR), David Stockdale (Ipswich)
Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Gary Cahill (Bolton), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), James Milner (Manchester City), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Forwards: Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Bobby Zamora (Fulham), Danny Welbeck (Manchester Utd)