Revealed: Manchester United star Marcus Rashford included in England Euro 2016 squad
Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford has been included in Roy Hodgson's 26-man squad for England's Euro 2016 preparation matches.
Hodgson has named a provisional party that includes 18-year-old Rashford, less than three months after he made his first-team debut for United.
The uncapped striker's impressive form has seen him fast-tracked into a group of forwards along with Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, as Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll miss out.
Andros Townsend, who won the last of his 10 caps in October, comes in following Danny Welbeck's knee injury, but there is no place for Theo Walcott.
Leicester's Danny Drinkwater, who impressed on his debut against Holland in March, is included in the squad, as are Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson as the pair make their way back from injury.
Phil Jagielka is the high-profile defensive absentee, with the Everton defender left out as Hodgson opted for a seven-man defence. Theo Walcott took to Twitter after news of his omission broke:
I wish Roy and all the team the best of luck for a successful Euro's.— Theo Walcott (@theowalcott) May 16, 2016
I am of course disappointed not to make the squad, but I have spoken with Roy and respect his decision— Theo Walcott (@theowalcott) May 16, 2016
Asked about Rashford's chances of featuring in his final 23-man squad, Hodgson told a press conference: "He's one of the contenders, of course.
"The competition is quite strong, he'll understand that. He deserves to be selected in this larger squad.
"It will be interesting to see what he can do, it may only be for one week, but I am pleased that he has had such a good end to the season.
"It's great to be able to include him. There's no reason why he can't knock someone off their perch, but it will be harder than some people might expect."
Rashford burst onto the scene with four goals on his first two senior United appearances, and has finished the season with seven goals in 16 games.
Hodgson was in attendance at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday to oversee Wilshere's first Arsenal start of the season against Aston Villa and has decided to give him the nod.
The midfielder suffered a broken leg in August but his last appearance for England, against Slovenia in June 2015, saw him score twice in a 3-2 win.
Liverpool captain Henderson also made his return from a month-long knee injury absence over the weekend and the England manager admits fitness concerns contributed towards his naming of an extended squad.
The Three Lions face Turkey, Australia and Portugal before heading to France in June.
Hodgson added: "We thought that it would be better to add one or two players to the squad, we've got these games coming up, and for this first game in particular we will be without a few players.
"We needed some extra bodies on this occasion. I'm making life that little bit harder for myself, but maybe some of these decisions will be made for me."
Explaining the omission of Everton defenders Leighton Baines and Jagielka, and Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick, Hodgson added: "Leighton hasn't played for us for well over a year.
"He was injured for a long time and it's good to see him back playing but in his absence people like Danny Rose, (Ryan) Bertrand and (Kieran) Gibbs have been filling the breach.
"Michael has played a part for us on a regular basis over these last two years and has been unfortunate with injuries but I've actually spoken to all three of those players and they were tough decisions.
"They're players that I respect and admire but you have to make a decision and there are only 23 players so I decided that on this occasion I would rob Peter to pay Paul in the sense of taking seven defenders rather than the classic eight, to give me a chance to take one more player in the midfield and forwards section.
"Unfortunately that means no Phil and it was a tough conversation but that's the kind of conversation you have to have, and I'm pleased I was able to speak to him before this announcement because I wouldn't have been very happy if he'd found out from this press conference."
Newcastle winger Townsend, who lost his England place while struggling to get a game for former club Tottenham, was preferred over his Arsenal counterpart Walcott.
"Andros was unlucky to lose his place in the squad when he wasn't getting a regular game and he's gone to Newcastle, got a regular game, and done very well there," added Hodgson.
"Theo unfortunately has not got such a regular game over the last few months and has had a few problems with injury. It's a tough decision of course but it's one you have to take.
"We've worked very hard over these qualifying games to analyse and think about the players we think are right for this occasion and this time there are a lot of players who haven't got a lot of experience in terms of international football.
"But I think that over the last couple of games we've played that they're an exciting bunch. They're hungry, enthusiastic and energetic and I think all of these things are positives.
"We can only hope that the faith we have in them is rewarded but the one thing I do know is that they won't be letting anybody down for want of trying."
THE ENGLAND SQUAD
JOE HART (Manchester City, 19/04/87, 57 caps, 0 goals)
England's established number one and an experienced campaigner, Hart has been at the sharp end for club and country for several years. Will be asked to lead and organise.
FRASER FORSTER (Southampton, 17/03/88, 5 caps, 0 goals)
Returned from 10 months out injured to set a new club record of six straight clean sheets earlier this season. An able deputy.
TOM HEATON (Burnley, 15/04/86, 0 caps, 0 goals)
Named in the Championship team of the season after his consistently solid performances helped the Clarets win the title. As clear third choice he will travel as emergency cover ahead of Ben Foster.
NATHANIEL CLYNE (Liverpool, 05/04/91, 11, 0 goals)
Now fully settled into life at Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, he brings energy to everything he does from right-back and caught the eye in the friendly win over Germany.
KYLE WALKER (Tottenham, 28/05/90, 14 caps, 0 goals)
Has flourished under Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs and will be battling Clyne for a starting spot despite featuring in just one of the qualifiers.
DANNY ROSE (Tottenham, 02/07/90, 2 caps, 0 goals)
Has timed his run perfectly having only made his senior bow in March, but Rose's showing against Germany and his form since makes a compelling case for him to start the tournament at left-back.
GARY CAHILL (Chelsea, 19/12/85, 41 caps, 3 goals)
A figure of some seniority now, Cahill's experience is valued by Roy Hodgson, who will be hoping the centre-half will be not be adversely affected by Chelsea's dire season.
CHRIS SMALLING (Man Utd, 22/11/89, 23 caps, 0 goals)
The post-Ferguson years have not been kind to many at Old Trafford, but Smalling's authority and consistency have risen and he is rapidly building his international credentials.
RYAN BERTRAND (Southampton, 05/08/89, 7 caps, 0 goals)
Still lacking meaningful international experience almost four years after his debut, but continues to impress with Saints and earns his spot in what has become a crowded field at left-back.
JOHN STONES (Everton, 28/05/94), 8 caps, 0 goals)
Still regularly linked with £40million transfers to the Champions League elite but dropped by a struggling Everton side earlier in the campaign. Question marks over his confidence, if not his talent, yet remains a big part of the future.
DELE ALLI (Tottenham, 11/04/96, 6 caps, 1 goal)
The PFA young player of the year and a driving force behind Spurs' title push, Alli's versatility and range of skills means England's main dilemma will be how to get the most from him.
JORDAN HENDERSON (Liverpool, 17/06/90), 23 caps, 0 goals)
A badly-timed knee injury left the midfielder sweating over his place but when fully fit his industry and work-rate are important assets in the anchor role.
JAMES MILNER (Liverpool, 04/01/86, 58 caps, 1 goal)
The well-travelled 30-year-old has already hinted he will consider his international future after the tournament, but for now he adds an experienced head to the more dynamic talents around him and can contribute a leadership role without starting.
ERIC DIER (Tottenham, 15/01/94, 4 caps, 1 goal)
A revelatory showing at the base of the midfield in the 3-2 friendly win over Germany, when he also opened his goalscoring account, made him a lock-in. Offers defensive nous and comfort on the ball in that role and versatility across the back four.
FABIAN DELPH (Man City, 05/05/91, 9 caps, 0 goals)
Has struggled without notable success to make himself a first-choice since swapping Aston Villa for the Etihad. He is likely to be on the fringes in France too, but comes with some experience of big European nights.
ADAM LALLANA (Liverpool, 10/05/88, 21 caps, 0 goals)
A regular fixture in the Roy Hodgson era, but still awaiting his defining moment in the Three Lions. Malleable enough to succeed in a variety of positions and systems, but may have to make the most of limited opportunities.
ROSS BARKLEY (Everton, 05/12/93, 21 caps, 2 goals)
Has had his best season in terms of goals but few would argue Barkley's progress has been serene. A victim, perhaps, of Everton's downward trajectory and Hodgson will hope a change of scenery brings out the best in one of his most skilful players.
JACK WILSHERE (Arsenal, 01/01/92, 28 caps, 2 goals)
Another season of injury woe for the 24-year-old, but his bad luck ceased in time for him to get back on the pitch before the end of the campaign. Hodgson is a huge admirer of the elegant midfielder and considers him worth a fitness gamble.
DANNY DRINKWATER (Leicester, 05/03/90, 1 cap, 0 goals)
A Premier League winners' medal, an England debut and now possibly a place on the plane to France: 2016 has been the year of Drinkwater's dreams. But his selection owes nothing to sentiment and everything to his indefatigable showings in the Foxes engine room.
RAHEEM STERLING (Man City, 08/12/94, 20 caps, 2 goals)
His big money move to the Etihad Stadium has not been a roaring success so far and there is a concerning inconsistency in his game. But he has pace, tricks and unpredictability in his favour and netted twice in qualifying.
ANDROS TOWNSEND (Newcastle, 16/07/91, 10 caps, 3 goals)
Started the season with his Tottenham career going up in smoke and ended it with relegation. His surge of form at the back end of the season was not enough to keep the Magpies up but it did turn Hodgson's head.
WAYNE ROONEY (C) (Man Utd, 24/10/85, 109 caps, 51 goals)
Captain. Record goalscorer. Most decorated player in the squad. What more is there to say about Wayne Rooney? Quite a lot, as it turns out. A star in qualifying but outperformed over the past season by a handful of strikers and debate rages as to how best he can now be used.
HARRY KANE (Tottenham, 28/07/93, 10 caps, 4 goals)
Has now enjoyed two barnstorming seasons in the Premier League and is the home-grown symbol of Spurs' compelling rebirth. Has carried that confidence into the early part of his international career and looks England's most obvious goal threat.
JAMIE VARDY (Leicester, 11/01/87, 5 caps, 2 goals)
The more he terrorises defences with his fast, direct runs and tops up his goal tally with a sniper's precision, the harder it is to believe he ever had to rise so far through the ranks. England will look to harness his hunger.
DANIEL STURRIDGE (Liverpool, 01/09/89, 17 caps, 5 goals)
Injury problems meant he slipped off England's radar for the best part of 18 months but while he may not possess the sharpest all-round game he is an instinctive goalscorer and is used to being used in an impact role by Jurgen Klopp.
MARCUS RASHFORD (Man Utd, 31/10/97, 0 caps, 0 goals)
A shock call for the precocious 18-year-old, who has taken his unexpected chance at Manchester United with relish. Seven goals in 16 appearances for the Red Devils is a small sample to work from but there is a fearlessness and verve that has led Hodgson to hand him this chance.