Fun-loving Londoner Jimmy Bullard will be looking to put smiles back on the faces of long-suffering England fans this week after being handed a shock World Cup call-up by boss Fabio Capello.
The popular Fulham man, 29, has been drafted into the international arena for the first time to strengthen an England midfield which is without injured trio Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick.
Bullard’s call-up completes a remarkable recovery from a career-threatening cruciate ligament injury sustained two years ago, which saw him out of action for 15 months. He returned for the latter half of last season and playing a crucial part in Fulham’s great escape from relegation.
Bullard is renowned for his light-hearted approach to the game and is his presence will undoubtedly help perk up a dressing room which is still smarting from the sour display against the Czech Republic a fortnight ago. But while Bullard is celebrating, there is no place again, however, for striker Michael Owen, who has impressed for Newcastle on his return from injury.
Owen misses out again with Capello picking only four strikers to take on Andorra on Saturday and then Croatia next Wednesday.
Arsenal’s Theo Walcott is in alongside Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe, meaning there’s no place again for Defoe’s Portsmouth team-mate Peter Crouch.
West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green is back in the squad alongside Everton defender Joleon Lescott, who has been given the nod ahead of Tottenham’s Jonathan Woodgate.