London (AFP) – Manchester United’s teenage sensation Marcus Rashford and Newcastle United winger Andros Townsend were named in a provisional 26-man England squad for Euro 2016 on Monday.
The uncapped Rashford, 18, has burst onto the scene with United this season, scoring seven goals in 16 games, while Townsend, who won the last of his 10 England caps in October, has impressed since joining Newcastle from Tottenham Hotspur in January.
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson were both included after recent spells on the sidelines, but there was no place for Wilshere’s club-mate Theo Walcott.
Explaining Rashford’s call-up, England manager Roy Hodgson told a press conference at Wembley: “He deserves to be selected. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do, even if he only has one week (in training) before I name the final 23.
“There’s no reason why he couldn’t knock someone off their perch (and earn a place in the final squad). But that will be harder than some people expect.”
Hodgson must reduce his squad to 23 players for the tournament in France, which sees England drawn alongside Slovakia, Russia and neighbours Wales in Group B.
Arsenal pair Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck had already been ruled out of the tournament by injury, while Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw has not returned to action since sustaining a double leg break last September.
Everton centre-back Phil Jagielka was another high-profile absentee, having struggled with injury in recent months, while there was an unexpected call-up for Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph.
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick, Everton left-back Leighton Baines and in-form Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe all missed out.
– Walcott ‘disappointed’ –
Premier League champions Leicester City had two representatives in midfielder Danny Drinkwater and striker Jamie Vardy.
Wilshere made his first start of the season for Arsenal in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa, having previously been sidelined by a fractured shin.
“Absolutely buzzing!” he wrote on Twitter. “I can’t wait to meet up with the squad and start preparing for the euros. Thanks for all the messages.”
On his decision to select Townsend over Walcott, Hodgson said: “They’re both good players. They’re very different players. They play in wide positions, but they’re not similar players.
“Andros was unlucky to lose his place when he was not getting a regular place. He’s done very well at Newcastle. Theo has not had such regular games and has had a tough time with injuries.”
Walcott, who sat out Arsenal’s win over Villa with a slight hamstring injury, was also omitted from Hodgson’s squad for the 2014 World Cup.
He wrote on Twitter: “I am of course disappointed not to make the squad, but I have spoken with Roy and respect his decision. I wish Roy and all the team the best of luck.”
Townsend tweeted: “Huge honour to be named in provisional @England squad for the euros…. Will give my all over next few weeks to try and make final squad!”
England begin their final preparations for the Euro with a friendly against Turkey in Manchester on Sunday and will also tackle Australia and Portugal before departing for France early next month.
Provisional England squad
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Andros Townsend (Newcastle United), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, capt), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
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