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Forster gets his hands on a World Cup call up

The England squad which will fly to Brazil to compete in the World Cup finals this summer was announced yesterday afternoon.

Roy Hodgson announces his England squad for the World Cup in Brazil this summer. Picture: Reuters
Roy Hodgson announces his England squad for the World Cup in Brazil this summer. Picture: Reuters

On a list which comprised the usual high-profile, A-list names was one which stood out for a very different reason. It read: Fraser Forster (Celtic).

The goalkeeper has added his name to a club record of clean sheets this season and his moniker has now been printed among the list of 23 players wanted to represent his country in Brazil. Not long after Forster picked up the phone to hear the news it is likely that his nearest and dearest were also being called up.

Forster lacks experience of the international scene. He will be in good company at the finals since Roy Hodgson has favoured a young squad for the tournament, with 20-year-old Everton midfielder Ross Barkley included alongside teenage players Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw.

Michael Carrick, Andy Carroll and Kyle Walker have all been left out, with the former the victim of a poor season for club side Manchester United. Carroll, meanwhile, has had an injury-ravaged season and Walker misses out due to a pelvic injury. Carrick and Carroll are both on the standby list.

Shaw was selected to perform at left-back ahead of Ashley Cole, who retired from international football on Sunday night after being informed he had not made the squad. Shaw's Southampton team-mate Rickie Lambert got the nod ahead of Carroll.

Wayne Rooney will be the leading striker in the squad once more, with Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck also on the plane.

Frank Lampard, now 35, made the cut, while Arsenal duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere were included despite their recent injury concerns, alongside Adam Lallana and James Milner.

There were fewer surprises in defence. Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are Hodgson's four centre-halves, Leighton Baines is the first-choice left-back and Glen Johnson the only recognised right-back.

John Stones and Jon Flanagan were named on the standby list alongside Tom Cleverley and Jermain Defoe. "You get experience by getting the opportunity," said the England manager. "It's wrong to focus totally on the fact there are those who are inexperienced, because everyone is inexperienced until they get the chance to do the job.

"I think they've played so well and been so effective in their club teams that they've really imposed their ability on my thinking. I'm sure if I'd picked a squad after the final qualifier in October it would have looked quite different, but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.

"You can't ignore what people are doing on a week-to-week basis and your decision is based on who is the best man for the job. This is a 23-man squad, we're not talking about 11. In that 23 there are an awful lot of caps. We should not get hung up that there are youngsters in there. I am not taking anyone purely for the experience."

On Barkley's inclusion at the end of a breakthrough season at Everton, Hodgson said: "He's a very, very exciting player, a very exciting talent and if he can continue at that level he has a very exciting future ahead of him. But I would hope people will temper their expectations of him."

Hodgson admitted the decision to leave out Cole was "an unbelievably hard call" and praised the "gracious" way with which the Chelsea defender accepted the news.Cole's Chelsea team-mate Lampard turns 36 in June, but Hodgson said the midfielder's "leadership qualities and his abilities" would be of use to England.

Several England players have been struggling with injuries in recent months including Rooney, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jagielka, but Hodgson said the only player whose fitness remained a slight concern was Jones. He revealed Stones would replace Jones in the final squad if he did not recover from his shoulder problem in time.

Hodgson hinted his back five positions were pretty much set in stone, but that his midfield and forward selections could yet surprise.

"In those front six positions there are a lot of options," said the England manager. "I would like to think that's a very exciting group we have for those front six positions, while the back four and goalkeeper tend to be a lot more stable."

Hodgson said he had no doubts that captain Steven Gerrard would overcome his title disappointment with Liverpool. "Steven is mentally very strong, extremely proud. He loves Liverpool, but also England and I have no doubt that he will be as good as he ever was during the tournament," he said.

Hodson also has faith in Rooney, who has largely disappointed for England at major tournaments and missed the end of what was a largely miserable campaign for United as a result of injury. "It's up to Wayne and if it's to do with desire to do it, then there's no doubt in my mind that we have nothing to fear with Wayne in that respect," he added.

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