Former Owl Michail Antonio completes journey from non-League to England’s squad

West Ham United's Michail Antonio (Picture: Adam Davy/PA).
West Ham United's Michail Antonio (Picture: Adam Davy/PA).
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Sam Allardyce has named uncapped West Ham midfielder Michail Antonio in his first England squad, but there is no place for Everton’s Ross Barkley.

Allardyce named 23 players for the World Cup 2018 qualifier in Slovakia, with former Sheffield Wednesday player Antonio getting the nod on the same day he scored in a losing effort against Manchester City.

Barkley, who was an unused squad member at Euro 2016, has been dropped despite scoring twice in his first four matches this season.

In all there are five changes from the squad that failed in France this summer, with Luke Shaw, Phil Jagielka, Danny Drinkwater and Theo Walcott all returning. The retired James Milner drops out along with Marcus Rashford, who has been named in the Under-21s, and injured pair Jack Wilshere and Ryan Bertrand.

Antonio’s call-up is the biggest surprise in Allardyce’s selection, though he has taken well to life in the Premier League since joining the Hammers from Nottingham Forest a year ago.

The 26-year-old scored nine times in 32 appearanes for West Ham last season and has netted headers in his last two games, against Bournemouth and City.

The return of Manchester United defender Shaw was expected and he is now ready to resume his international career after making a successful return to action from the double leg break that sidelined him for much of the FA Cup holders’ 2015-16 campaign.

Leicester title-winner Drinkwater was also widely tipped to win a place after becoming the last man to be cut from Hodgson’s pre-Euro training squad.

Jagielka adds an extra central defensive option, edging out the likes of Burnley’s Michael Keane and Hull City’s Curtis Davies, while Walcott may consider himself fortunate to be back already after a quiet start to the season with Arsenal.

Joe Hart retains his place despite his ongoing exile at Manchester City, with Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton also included as Jack Butland is not yet match fit.

No captain has been named, with Allardyce unlikely to nominate his chosen man until after the squad get together at St George’s Park this evening, but the previous incumbent Wayne Rooney is listed among the midfielders.

The country’s record goalscorer played in central midfield in France, but his United manager Jose Mourinho has called time on that experiment and Allardyce had been expected to follow suit.

John Terry’s name was unsurprisingly absent from the announcement.

Allardyce had refused to rule out contacting the retired former captain last week, but it is understood he was never a candidate to feature.

Elsewhere Manchester City’s former Leeds United player Fabian Delph was overlooked in midfield, as were previous Allardyce favourites Mark Noble and Jermain Defoe. Both proved tried and trusted performers for the 61-year-old at West Ham and Sunderland, respectively, but did not receive a call for the September 4 meeting in Trnava.

Explaining his decision to bring Antonio aboard, Allardyce told www.thefa.com: “I think he’s in outstanding form.

“This is another lad with a great journey – it’s a fantastic journey that he’s been on, from non-League to now an international call-up.

“He scored nine goals in his first season and he’s a terrific athlete, a good crosser and a goalscorer.

“I’m looking forward to him coming, and looking forward to meeting everybody. Hopefully we will have a good few days’ preparation and get to know each other on the basis of trying to go and win in Slovakia.”