Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater has been named in the England squad for the first time for the friendlies against Germany and Holland this month.
The 26-year-old and Tottenham’s Danny Rose are the only uncapped players in Roy Hodgson’s final squad before having to select the side for this summer’s European Championship.
Drinkwater is part of the 24-man squad that will travel to Germany for a friendly in Berlin next week, before welcoming Holland in a glamour tie at Wembley.
While the merits of team-mate Marc Albrighton have been overlooked, plus those of West Ham’s Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell, the Leicester midfielder has been rewarded after starring in a campaign to remember at the King Power Stadium.
Drinkwater has not represented England since under-19 level but now has the chance to impress in the absence of the often-injured Jack Wilshere.
Danny Drinkwater: Has won possession more times in the middle third (146) than any other player in the Premier League this season #eng
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 17, 2016
Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are the forward options in the absence of injured captain Wayne Rooney.
This is not Rose’s first call-up but the Tottenham left-back is now in line to win his first senior cap, having been selected ahead of Cresswell, Kieran Gibbs and Leighton Baines, while Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick was not selected.
Of Drinkwater, Hodgson said: “What he has done has been pretty evident to everybody. He’s had a fantastic season in a team that’s having a fantastic season.
“In that area of the field the competition is quite fierce. On this occasion I thought it was an opportunity to bring him in and see if he can reproduce the type of football he’s shown for Leicester at international level.”
Rooney may be absent through injury but remains an integral part of a squad which remains open before the May 12 selection deadline for Euro 2016.
Hodgson added: “Things are looking good on paper – what happens on that patch of grass when you step over that white line are two different things.
“I’m not prepared to say ‘this is it’. At the moment we’re looking at a fairly large group of players, but who knows? There are still five or six weeks left of the season.
“These last two years, 16 games since the World Cup – we’ve only lost one of those, away to Spain – they’ve taught me a lot.
“I’m hoping that potential and that prospect will be enhanced by the two games we’re playing now and we’ll learn a lot because we’ll have a stern test.
“I’ll be closer (to final decisions after the friendlies), there’s no question about that.”
Hodgson added: “At the moment looking at the front six of the team we have an awful lot of alternatives to play in different ways. Wayne as our captain is an important part of that.”
Hodgson has four left-backs to choose from and “deliberately ignored” Arsenal’s Gibbs and Everton full-back Baines in favour of Ryan Bertrand and Rose.
“On this occasion I deliberately ignored Kieran and Leighton,” he added.
“On this occasion I chose to take Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand who appeared with us later than those other two, two players we know a little bit less.”
Carrick was overlooked in favour of Drinkwater, but still could make the final squad, like others who have been omitted this time.
“That doesn’t mean to say he’s disappeared off the list,” Hodgson added.
“They’re players who have been with us and deserve consideration.”
Butland (Stoke), Forster (Southampton), Hart (Manchester City); Bertrand (Southampton), Cahill (Chelsea), Clyne (Liverpool), Jagielka (Everton), Rose (Tottenham), Smalling (Manchester United), Stones (Everton), Walker (Tottenham); Alli (Tottenham), Barkley (Everton), Dier (Tottenham), Drinkwater (Leicester), Henderson (Liverpool), Lallana (Liverpool), Milner (Liverpool), Sterling (Manchester City); Kane (Tottenham), Sturridge (Liverpool), Vardy (Leicester), Walcott (Arsenal), Welbeck (Arsenal).