ROY HODGSON last night insisted there is no club versus country row with Liverpool after striker Daniel Sturridge was omitted from the England squad for next week’s Euro 2016 double-header.
The Three Lions’ chief has named a squad containing just three forwards for the clashes with San Marino at Wembley on October 9 and the away trip to Estonia three days later.
Sturridge, who has not played in the Premier League since picking up a thigh strain on international duty last month, is not among the trio with Hodgson instead expected to start Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck with Ricky Lambert on the bench.
Hodgson’s decision to omit the 25-year-old comes despite him being in contention for a Liverpool return against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.
It also followed Reds manager Brendan Rogers insisting ahead of his side’s Champions League defeat in Basel that Sturridge would not be in the England squad even if he was fit enough to play in the Premier League this weekend.
This led to talk of a possible row brewing between Rodgers, who provides four of the 21-players named in yesterday’s squad, and the national team.
The Three Lions’ chief, however, is adamant that such thinking is well wide of the mark.
Hodgson, who has also left out Phil Jones even though the defender is close to a return for Manchester United, said: “Daniel is not fit. That is the bottom line. It would have been nice if he had been, but he is not.
“If he and Phil Jones play at the weekend, that will be a matter for some discussion. But let’s wait and see first. I am not certain they will.
“Injuries do happen. No manager has, as yet, said to me that players must not train two days after a game. But I understand that with Daniel it is an important player to send back injured, I understand Brendan being unhappy about that.
“We are never happy when we send a player back injured, but we do our best not to do that.”
Last month, Rodgers blamed England for Sturridge suffering the injury in training just 48 hours after playing 89 minutes of England’s 1-0 friendly win over Norway.
The Liverpool manager felt his striker, whose absence has been keenly felt by the Reds in recent weeks, should have been given more rest time.
Asked if the presence of so many Anfield players in the England ranks meant he was doubly keen not to upset Rodgers, Hodgson replied: “I don’t want to upset anyone. The idea of a national coach’s job is you want players to be comfortable playing for both. You don’t want them to have to choose club over country or upsetting their club to play for their country.
“We want harmony and the way to get harmony is to try to have a relationship with both the player, who you would hope would be very unhappy when he can’t play, and with the club, who you hope are happy to release their players to play for their country. That is our aim. That is our role.”
Hodgson named a couple of surprise inclusions by calling up Swansea City midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and Southampton defender Nathaniel Clyne.
Making way are Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers – who both drop to the Under-21s – while former Leeds United midfielder Fabian Delph retains his place after impressing on full debut in last month’s victory in Switzerland. Adam Lallana also returns to the squad after injury.
In the absence of Sturridge, however, the focus will be on Rooney and Welbeck, two strikers who have had hugely contrasting weeks, to provide the goals to seal what should be two comfortable qualifying victories.
Hodgson said: “I was thrilled (to see Welbeck score a hat-trick this week in the Champions League against Galatasaray). He is a good player. It seems to me in the days of very big transfer fees that £16m does seem a fairly reasonable price to pay.
“But it is up to Daniel to show that he is worth that money. If he continues to do so well that people are writing ‘this was a steal’ or ‘this was a great piece of business’ even better still.”
On Rooney’s red card in last weekend’s victory for Manchester United over West Ham, Hodgson replied: “For me, it was a clumsy attempt. It is not back to the bad old days.
“I was at the game, I saw no frustration whatsoever. I saw an attempt to stop a counter-attack and it was done in a clumsy way that meant he kicked out rather than pulled back or tripped up.”
The Football Association, meanwhile, have confirmed a friendly has been arranged between Hodgson’s men and Italy next year. March 31 is the date set aside for the clash at an Italian venue that is yet to be decided. England will host Italy in return friendlies after Euro 2016 and before the 2018 World Cup.
Hodgson said: “Italian teams are always set up very well and they have a great history of producing world class footballers.
“After managing in Italy with Inter Milan, it will be a fantastic experience for me personally to go back to Italy and manage England.”
England squad: F Forster (Southampton), B Foster (West Brom), J Hart (Man City), L Baines (Everton), G Cahill (Chelsea), N Clyne (Southampton), K Gibbs (Arsenal), P Jagielka (Everton), J Stones (Everton), F Delph (Aston Villa), J Henderson (Liverpool), A Lallana (Liverpool), J Milner (Man City), A Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), J Shelvey (Swansea), R Sterling (Liverpool), A Townsend (Tottenham), J Wilshere (Arsenal), R Lambert (Liverpool), W Rooney (Man United), D Welbeck (Arsenal).