Roy Hodgson has called for no let-up from his England players after naming his squad for the forthcoming double-header against San Marino and Switzerland.
Six Euro 2016 qualifying wins from six have put Hodgson’s men on the brink of qualification and last night he named the 22 men he will carry with him for the next 10 days.
Jamie Vardy is the headline inclusion, despite his recent fine for using racist language – with Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey in the squad almost three years after his one and only cap to date.
Hodgson rewarded Vardy for his impressive form at the end of last season by calling him up to the England squad for the first time.
The 28-year-old, who was playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels and FC Halifax Town in non-league football just five years ago, came off the bench to make his international debut in England’s 0-0 draw against the Republic of Ireland in June and has scored two Premier League goals so far this season – including a late equalising penalty at Bournemouth on Saturday as the Foxes remain unbeaten under new boss Claudio Ranieri.
Shelvey has also been selected having started the season well. He featured in Swansea’s 2-1 win over Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium on yesterday.
Tottenham’s Ryan Mason is another midfield player who will be looking to add to his solitary cap as Hodgson lauded the strength in depth at his disposal, while also warning his players not to take their foot off the gas.
“On this occasion we are obviously missing some players from the June matches,” he said.
“However this is compensated by the fact we have players who weren’t available over the summer.
“Jonjo Shelvey gets another chance as he has been very impressive since the start of the season whilst Ryan Mason has been unlucky with us – he picked up an injury the last time he was in the England squad.
“This latest squad shows we are working a good number of players with a claim to be England regulars and secure a place in Euro 2016.
“Before that there are two matches we must focus on. The players must keep going, play well and look to win every match. I don’t want any let up and we want to win both these games.”
Leicester hit Vardy with a “substantial” fine and the player issued a public apology after he found himself in trouble when a video was published of him calling a man a “Jap” three times during an argument at a casino.
“I wholeheartedly apologise for any offence I’ve caused,” he said.
“It was a regrettable error in judgement I take full responsibility for, and I accept my behaviour was not up to what’s expected of me.”
It is understood Vardy has recently met with the man he racially abused to talk the situation over. Between them they agreed on a charity which will receive the money from Vardy’s fine.
It is also understood that Vardy has since been on a diversity awareness course, organised by the Football Association (FA) at Leicester’s request.
FA director of elite development Dan Ashworth is also due to meet the forward in order to remind him of his responsibilities as an England international.
Barnsley-born Everton defender John Stones, who has been the target of a number of bids from Premier League champions Chelsea, regains his place but there is no room in the squad for Saido Berahino – with the West Brom forward missing out on recent Baggies games after being linked with a move to Tottenham.
There is also no room for Spurs defender Kyle Walker or QPR striker Charlie Austin, who was in the previous squad. Harry Kane returns to the squad.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Tom Heaton (Burnley).
Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones, Phil Jagielka (Both Everton).
Midfielders: Michael Carrick (Manchester United), James Milner (Liverpool), Ross Barkley (Everton), Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph (Both Manchester City), Ryan Mason (Tottenham).
Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).