Palace youngster gets Sturridge thumbs-up

CHELSEA striker Daniel Sturridge has given Crystal Palace youngster Wilfried Zaha a glowing reference after seeing England’s latest call-up in training with the national team for the first time.

Versatile forward Zaha, 20, was a late addition to the squad for Wednesday’s trip to Sweden, after the withdrawal through injury of Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott left Roy Hodgson desperately short of attacking options.

The Ivory Coast-born starlet could yet choose to represent the west African nation even if he plays in Stockholm, as the match is a friendly, but Sturridge hopes he sticks with his adopted country.

“He is a very talented player and he was sharp in training today, he looked very good. He has got a lot of skills and can bring a lot to the table. I am looking forward to playing with him,” he said.

“I think whichever decision he makes is going to be right for him as a person but I think everybody would love him to play for England and it would be great if he could.”

Captain Steven Gerrard looks set to become only the sixth England player to reach a century of caps this week after a scan on a knee injury suffered in Sunday’s draw at Chelsea allayed fears of a serious problem.

Sturridge, meanwhile, is hoping for a chance to shine, as one of only two Premier League strikers in the party, despite the 23-year-old starting only once for Chelsea this term.

“It’s just great to be in the position where I am now, to be involved in the England squad even though I’ve not been playing regularly, and for the manager to show huge faith in me,” he added. “I just want to thank him for picking me for this squad and hopefully I’ll repay him. It’s a huge window of opportunity for everyone to show the manager what they can do.”


■ Moved from the Ivory Coast to south London aged four and was signed by a Crystal Palace scout after impressing at a school tournament

■ Made senior debut at 18 in 2010 and is the first outfield player from the Championship to get an England call-up since Jay Bothroyd in 2010

■ Man of the match when Palace defeated Manchester United in the Carling Cup last season, before being crowned Football League Young Player of the Year in May

■Chelsea legend Didier Drogba called Zaha to try to persuade him to pledge allegiance to the Ivory Coast, who he will remain eligible for even if he plays for England tomorrow night