ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson feels the inclusion of three Southampton players in his squad for forthcoming friendlies with Chile and Germany dispels the myth only those at “top” clubs earn international call-ups.
Striker Rickie Lambert has retained his place in the 28-man squad, while the recent form of uncapped Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana has not gone unnoticed, with Saints sixth in the Premier League table.
Should Hodgson, who is set to drop out of favour goalkeeper Joe Hart for one of the friendlies, field the trio it will be the first time since January 1986 – when Peter Shilton, Mark Wright and Danny Wallace turned out in a friendly win against Egypt – that Saints have had three players in the same England team.
And the 66-year-old boss insists all three deserve the chance to play their way into the reckoning for next summer’s World Cup squad.
“It seems to me now is the right time to introduce them and I hope they will be happy to be selected,” said Hodgson. “If they get a chance to show what they can do I know they won’t let their country down.
“Sometimes one gets accused of only picking from the top teams, but that is not so strange because the top teams normally have the top players.
“It is always nice for players playing at clubs where maybe they don’t have quite the same attention as some of the other top teams to know they are not forgotten, to know there is chance for them if they play well.”
Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs, who earned his last cap three years ago, has been recalled.
Meanwhile, Hodgson has retained Tottenham winger Andros Townsend, the subject of a half-time joke in England’s last match against Poland that contained the punchline “feed the monkey”, which unintentionally sparked a race row.
However, Hodgson explained at the time his comments related to a joke used by space agency NASA, which has no racial connotations, and believes the matter is now closed.
“It’s difficult to really regret innocent remarks but I’ve apologised for them if such an innocent remark could have caused any offence,” Hodgson added. “I don’t wish to even think about it any more. I don’t want to tarnish the achievement of the players in getting to the World Cup. It’s over and done with.”
THREE LIONS SQUAD
■ Forster, Hart, Ruddy
■ Baines, Cahill, Cole, Gibbs, Jagielka, Johnson, Jones, Smalling, Walker
■ Barkley, Carrick, Cleverley, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Lampard, Milner, Townsend, Wilshere
■ Defoe, Lambert, Rodriguez, Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck