Fabio Capello has selected Manchester United youngsters Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley and Chris Smalling in his England squad for next month’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales.
Jones, 19, is called up for the first time after a superb start to his United career following a ￡16.5 million (US$10.7 million) pre-season transfer from Blackburn Rovers, while midfielder Cleverley, 22, gets the nod again after being brought in as a late addition to the squad for this month’s postponed friendly against the Netherlands.
Defender Smalling, 21, was an unused substitute for a friendly defeat against France last season and is still waiting for his international debut.
On the day United routed Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford and Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-1, Capello packed his squad with players from both Manchester clubs.
United striker Wayne Rooney, who scored a hat-trick against the Gunners, and winger Ashley Young, who netted twice against Arsene Wenger’s men, were also included.
However, there was no place United defender Rio Ferdinand, who has not played since injuring his hamstring at West Bromwich Albion, while his club colleague Danny Welbeck missed out after suffering a hamstring injury soon after scoring the opening goal against Arsenal.
City were also well represented as Capello picked goalkeeper Joe Hart, defenders Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards, and midfielders Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson and James Milner.
In total, there are six changes from the postponed Netherlands game, with Aston Villa striker Darren Bent and Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe recalled.
Capello also showed a rarely-seen forgiving nature as he selected Arsenal winger Theo Walcott, who was critical of the Italian’s management style in his recently published autobiography.
Amongst those who miss out are Tottenham forward Peter Crouch and his club colleague Kyle Walker, who has been overtaken by Smalling for the rightback role.
England are currently top of their qualifying group, ahead of Montenegro on goal-difference, and they travel to Bulgaria on Friday, before hosting Wales at Wembley four days later.
Capello’s major selection dilemma for the Bulgaria clash appears to be who will partner Rooney in attack.
Defoe started alongside Rooney against Bulgaria 12 months ago and responded with a hat-trick in a 4-0 win, but Capello is more likely to start with Bent, as Defoe has not scored for his country since that treble and Andy Carroll was left on the bench for Liverpool’s win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.