Gareth Southgate sprung several shocks when he named his first England squad since becoming permanent manager, including Jermain Defoe, Jake Livermore and Luke Shaw as well as four uncapped players.
The 26-man group to face Germany and Lithuania includes Southampton pair James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond, both of whom have played for Southgate at under-21 level but have yet to feature for the seniors, along with the uncapped Michael Keane and Michail Antonio.
Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones and Ross Barkley have also earned recalls to the international stage but there is no place for skipper Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Danny Rose who are all recovering from injuries.
READ MORE: I deserve this – Defoe on England recall
Injuries to Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Kane have led to Sunderland’s Defoe – last capped in November 2013 – being brought back into the fold at the age of 34 while Rashford, 15 years his junior, has also been named in Southgate’s group rather than the under-21s.
Defoe has scored 19 goals in 55 games for the Three Lions.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the presence of West Brom midfielder Livermore given his sole cap came in the summer of 2012 against Italy.
In 2015 Livermore tested positive for cocaine and was cleared to return in September that year less than two weeks after the Football Association took the death of his newborn son as exceptional mitigating circumstances.
Speaking at a press conference after announcing his squad the England manager also pointed to the new names in his squad.
He said: “We are definitely nodding towards the future with some of the decisions we are making.”
Southgate thinks Defoe has a point to prove.
— Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) March 16, 2017
“Year after year he’s phenomenal, but this year in particular, in a team that aren’t creating as many chances as other teams, his strike rate is outstanding,” Southgate said of the Sunderland forward.
“I didn’t want to just look at his age and think he’s finished with England. He’s somebody that is immensely proud to have represented England at every age group. I think you get young players with a point to prove and older players with a point to prove.”
The England manager explained why he had not selected Rooney or turned to Arsenal’s Theo Walcott or West Ham’s Andy Carroll in his search for forward cover.
“I’ve talked with Wayne. I think there’s a chance he’s fit for the weekend but also the injury coupled with the fact he’s not really had a lot of game time recently and others have in that area of the pitch has sort of determined my decision on that one.
“Theo has a really valid claim for being included. I didn’t see him featuring in the games this week and so in terms of having him in the longer squad I needed to look at one or two other players that I don’t know too much about.
“That’s a really tough call on him and one I don’t expect him to be chuffed to bits about.
“Andy I don’t think has played enough. It’s a bit like Danny Welbeck. Danny is a player I really like but at the moment is a little bit short of match minutes.”
Meanwhile, left-back Shaw has played just twice for Manchester United since November, though an injury to Tottenham’s Danny Rose has also left Southgate short in that department.
Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Man City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Michael Keane (Burnley), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), Chris Smalling (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Dele Alli (Tottenham), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), Jake Livermore (West Brom), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Man City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Jamie Vardy (Leicester).