Leicester’s Drinkwater gets first England call-up
Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater was awarded his first England call-up on Thursday for the forthcoming friendly games against Germany and the Netherlands.
The former Manchester United youth player, 26, has played a key role for Leicester in their sensational surge to the top of the Premier League table and was rewarded with a place in England manager Roy Hodgson’s 24-man squad.
There were returns for Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster, Liverpool pair Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge and Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck after injury, but captain Wayne Rooney misses out due to a knee problem.
“What he’s done has been pretty evident to everybody,” Hodgson said of Drinkwater during a press conference at Wembley Stadium.
“He’s had a fantastic season in a team that’s having a fantastic season, but even last year we were aware of him.
“In that area of the field the competition is quite fierce, but I thought this was a good opportunity to bring him in and see if he can produce that quality of football for England.”
Liverpool striker Sturridge, 26, missed the entirety of England’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a succession of injuries and Hodgson welcomed his return to fitness.
“It will be interesting to see how it is with Daniel,” said Hodgson, who has also recalled uncapped Tottenham Hotspur left-back Danny Rose.
“He hasn’t been with us for a long time. But we won’t be looking to take any extra special care with him.
“I just hope he’s got over the period he’s had over the last year and a half, and can be the same player we had in spring 2014.”
On Welbeck, who recently returned from a 10-month lay-off with a knee problem, he added: “I think he looks good and sharp, and I know that (Arsenal manager) Arsene (Wenger) is happy with the way he’s come back.”
England tackle world champions Germany in Berlin on March 26 before playing Holland at Wembley three days later, as they step up their preparations for this year’s European Championship in France.
Hodgson’s side are also due to face Turkey, Australia and Portugal in friendlies before opening the tournament against Russia in Marseille on June 11.
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)