Marcus Rashford was the stand-out name as England manager Roy Hodgson selected a young, bold and attacking squad for Euro 2016.
Hodgson finalised his 23-man squad for this summer’s tilt at glory yesterday, with Andros Townsend and Danny Drinkwater joining the injured Fabian Delph in being cut from the enlarged provisional party.
Having initially intended to reveal his final selection on May 12, the England manager instead named a 26-strong group after the final round of Premier League matches in order to assess the fitness of some key players.
That decision also allowed the coaching staff to take a closer look at Manchester United striker Rashford, who netted eight goals in 18 appearances after bursting on to the scene in late February.
The 18-year-old went on to score 138 seconds into Friday’s international debut and was named man of the match in the 2-1 friendly win against Australia, complementing some impressive training displays.
Hodgson, Ray Lewington and Gary Neville clearly saw enough from the precocious striker as, 96 days after making his club debut, they included him in the squad heading to France.
Rashford found out about his selection at England’s team hotel at lunchtime yesterday, having returned to The Grove following a session at Watford’s nearby training ground in London Colney.
The 23-man squad were called into a short team meeting and informed they had made the cut, as well as finding out the numbers they would be wearing in France.
Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson were all chosen despite questions over their fitness, while left-back Ryan Bertrand was included despite receiving treatment on a knock.
The Football Association is expecting the entire squad to be fit for England’s Group B opener against Russia on June 11, even if Thursday’s final warm-up match against Portugal comes too soon.
Drinkwater and Townsend will watch the Wembley encounter from afar having left out of the squad, with Hodgson due to explain his decisions in detail at today’s pre-match press conference.
The duo were told they had not made the cut in private meetings in Hodgson’s room, with both said to have been very respectful and mature in the manner they took the news.
Drinkwater is believed to have missed out on the squad due to the coaching staff’s decision to plump for an additional striker rather than an extra midfielder.
“Disappointed not to make the final 23!” the Leicester man posted on Instagram.
“Would of been a fantastic experience to go to the euros as a player... But I’ll be supporting the country like I always have!
“The seasons been a huge positive for me.. Going into next season as a premier league champion! Good luck to the lads... Bring it home #england”
Newcastle winger Townsend missed the World Cup two years ago through injury and was regularly picked by Hodgson, even when struggling for game-time at former club Tottenham.
Townsend said on Twitter: “Obviously gutted to fall at the final hurdle but wishing the boys all the best of luck at Euro 2016 #ComeOnEngland”
Hodgson’s decision means England will have three goalkeepers, seven defenders, eight midfielders and five forwards in France.
Sturridge has been given number 15 and Rashford will wear 22, while Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy take up shirts nine, 10 and 11.
Tottenham pair Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have been given the number two and three shirts ahead of full-back rivals Nathaniel Clyne and Bertrand.
Hodgson’s men begin Group B against Russia in Marseille before taking on Wales in Lens on June 16 and travelling to St Etienne on June 20 to face Slovakia.
England squad — Goalkeepers:
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).
Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).
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