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Friday 9 December 2016

Double celebration for Cleverley

Published 05/06/2015 | 19:36

Tom Cleverley has been handed an England recall on the same day he agreed a five-year deal with Everton
Tom Cleverley has been handed an England recall on the same day he agreed a five-year deal with Everton

Tom Cleverley had two reasons to celebrate as he agreed a five-year contract with Everton just moments after being called up to the England squad.

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Late on Friday evening the 25-year-old was drafted in by Roy Hodgson to replace Ryan Mason, who withdrew with a knee injury, and within half-an-hour his summer move to Goodison Park was confirmed.

Cleverley's contract with Manchester United expires at the end of June and while he would have expected to have spent the month sorting out finding another club, the England call came out of the blue - somewhat appropriate considering his next choice of employer.

Mason's injury, which is not believed to be serious enough to affect his pre-season preparations, while training with the squad at St George's Park this week meant he had to return to Spurs for treatment and therefore will miss the upcoming double-header against the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia.

That opened a way back for Cleverley, who has not played for his country since November 2013.

He featured in the first nine matches under Hodgson after Euro 2012 but lost his place following a dip in form for United.

Cleverley was named on the standby list for the World Cup last year but did not make the final 23 even though Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sustained a knee injury in the penultimate warm-up match against Ecuador in Miami.

A deadline-day move to Everton last summer collapsed but he was able to sign on loan for Aston Villa, where he enjoyed something of a renaissance under the management of Tim Sherwood, scoring three goals in the club's final three league games to help them avoid relegation.

Just last week Hodgson was enthusing about Cleverley's form at Villa and said he would be the first person to be called up should any injuries occur.

"Cleverley was very unlucky to miss out on this selection," Hodgson said a week after leaving the midfielder out of his squad for the games in Dublin and Ljubljana.

"He was someone we discussed a lot. We like him, trust him, we can call him up like that if we want. If someone else went down we have Tom up our sleeves."

Having now been called up to the 23-man squad, Cleverley stands a chance of earning his 14th cap in Sunday's friendly against the Republic or the Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia seven days later.

New manager Roberto Martinez will hope, if he does feature in either of those games, he comes through unscathed so he is ready to join them for pre-season in early July.

"We are extremely delighted to be welcoming Tom to Everton and I can think of many reasons as to why our fans will enjoy Tom representing our football club," said Martinez, who had the midfielder on loan for a season while Wigan boss in 2010-11.

"The most important one is that he is a perfect fit for what we are trying to build here as he has so much experience of playing in the Premier League and he still has his best years just ahead of him.

"At the age of 25 and a player who is representing his country, Tom has experienced winning trophies and having big roles in demanding teams.

"Having worked with him previously, I know the type of character he is and I know that, with the Everton fans' support, we will get a very special footballer joining our already exciting team.

"It says a lot also, when someone like Tom is available on a free transfer and he can pick his next club out of many options home and abroad, that he has chosen to play for our football club. That's the perfect start to his career here at Everton."

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