HE thought his chance had passed, but at the age of 33 Bolton forward Kevin Davies was yesterday handed his first England call-up for next week’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro.
Davies was by far the most surprising name in Fabio Capello’s 23-man squad, which also includes teenage Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, despite him being named in the Under-21 squad.
West Ham goalkeeper goalkeeper Robert Green, dropped after the World Cup for his infamous blunder against the USA, has won a surprise recall, while Liverpool’s Joe Cole is also back in favour.
Long-standing central defensive pair John Terry and Rio Ferdinand also both return from injury, and Wayne Rooney is deemed fit enough despite missing Manchester United’s last two matches.
But it is the selection of Davies, who has plied his trade at a series of unfashionable clubs, that will raise the most eyebrows. The former Chesterfield trainee, who has also played for Blackburn and Southampton, has never been prolific, scoring just 63 times in 295 appearances for Bolton, with just two in eight this season.
Davies (right) himself admitted in an interview earlier this season that he thought his England chance had passed him by, having reached Capello’s expanded squad before only to fail to make the final cut.
His inclusion this time is largely down to a dearth of other options, with Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, Fulham’s Bobby Zamora and Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor all ruled out by injury.
Newcastle youngster Andy Carroll had been strongly tipped to earn a first senior call-up, having been omitted from the Under-21 squad, but has been left out after being dropped by his club.
Aston Villa’s Emile Heskey, who announced his international retirement in the aftermath of the World Cup, has enjoyed a resurgence but is thought to have rejected the chance to return to the fold.
Whether Davies earns a debut remains to be seen, with Capello also having Rooney, Tottenham’s Peter Crouch and Sunderland’s Darren Bent among his forward options.
Capello hinted yesterday that Bent might be in line for a more prominent role, having appeared to have finally won over the Italian with a first international goal against Switzerland last month.
“Bent is back,” he said. “In front of goal, he is really dangerous. He played 20 minutes against Switzerland and scored an important goal. Now he is training really well. He is probably one of the important players for the future.”
Wilshere, meanwhile, who has been a revelation for the Gunners this season, could add to the debut cap he won against Hungary in August.
The 18-year-old is set to join up with the squad after playing for the Under-21s in Friday’s European Championship play-off with Romania.
ENGLAND | TO PLAY MONTENEGRO
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster (Birmingham), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Man City). Defenders: Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Rio Ferdinand (Man United), Joleon Lescott (Man City), John Terry (Chelsea), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa) Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Man City), Joe Cole (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham), Adam Johnson (Man City), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Man City), Ashley Young (Aston Villa)?Forwards: Darren Bent (Sunderland), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Kevin Davies (Bolton), Wayne Rooney (Man United)