Depleted England turn to Palace striker Zaha for Sweden friendly

Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere
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England coach Roy Hodgson has handed a shock call-up to highly-rated Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha.

The 20-year-old has been capped five times at Under-21 level and attracted the attention of a host of top clubs.

Now Hodgson has recognised that quality by handing Zaha a spot in his revised squad for Wednesday’s friendly with Sweden.

“Wow, everything’s happening so fast,” Zaha wrote on Twitter last night.

Zaha is joined in the squad by Carl Jenkinson, even though the FA are still awaiting official clearance from FIFA that he is eligible to play for England, plus Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone.

Spurs duo Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon are among five players to pull out through injury.

Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott suffered injuries playing for Manchester United and Arsenal on Saturday, while Liverpool’s Jonjo Shelvey missed yesterday’s draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

In addition, the FA said that Hodgson asked about the availability of Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but was told that Defoe – a substitute at Manchester City yesterday – was injured and the latter not match fit, even though he featured in Saturday’s draw with Fulham.

On Jenkinson, the FA said: “It is expected that the paperwork will be completed and sent through to The FA on Monday, meaning Jenkinson will be available for the match with Sweden on Wednesday night.”

Hodgson could lose further members of his squad before they fly to Sweden tomorrow.

Steven Gerrard is due to win his 100th cap but Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers indicated his captain had suffered some kind of knee ligament damage at Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, Hodgson insists Arsene Wenger trusts him to look after Jack Wilshere.

Just three games into his comeback after 17 months on the sidelines with a variety of injuries, even Wilshere concedes he is surprised at how quickly he has returned to the international fold.

Hodgson has confirmed his intention to treat the 20-year-old with kid gloves and has already confirmed Wilshere will not start in the new 50,000-capacity Friends Arena.

“I am aware of Arsene’s concerns, which I fully understand as he needs to look after a player who has been out for a length of time,” said Hodgson.

“But Jack is an important player for us and now he is fit and playing and available for selection, he understands we are going to put him in the squad.

“He trusts me to make certain I look after him. I have made it clear if he plays in this game it will be part of the game and won’t be a case of him starting.”