Eng­land calls on Cov kid Cal­lum

Warwickshire Telegraph - - COVENTRY CITY -

ENG­LAND boss Gareth South­gate has handed for­mer City striker Cal­lum Wil­son his first call-up to the Eng­land squad for the com­ing fix­tures with USA and Croa­tia.

The in-form Bournemouth for­ward has net­ted seven times in 13 ap­pear­ances al­ready this sea­son, and hav­ing had to bat­tle hard to re­turn from a long in­jury lay-off.

Wil­son, 26, left the Sky Blues for the south coast in the sum­mer of 2014 and he net­ted 23 times in his first sea­son – a pro­mo­tion-win­ning one for the Cher­ries.

South­gate, mean­while, has de­fended the in­clu­sion of Wayne Rooney in the Eng­land squad, re­veal­ing he could even fea­ture as cap­tain in a trib­ute that has been dis­cussed for over a year.

Rooney re­tired from in­ter­na­tional duty in Au­gust 2017 af­ter 119 caps and a record 53 goals, and his Eng­land ca­reer is set to be hon­oured by a fi­nal, fur­ther cap against the USA at Wem­b­ley next Thurs­day with a sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ance.

The Eng­land man­ager re­mains adamant that the oc­ca­sion will not de­value the shirt and also de­scribed as “strange” the di­vi­sive de­bate that has sur­rounded Rooney’s in­volve­ment, which the for­ward felt would not be ap­pro­pri­ate in the friendly against Nige­ria on the eve of the World Cup.

“Those dis­cus­sions started over 12 months ago; I was quite happy for the trib­ute to be be­fore the World Cup but Wayne didn’t want to de­tract from the team at that time, which ev­ery­one re­spected,” said South­gate. “That’s why it was put back.

“Now we have the op­por­tu­nity at Wem­b­ley to pay that trib­ute. The play­ers would re­spect Wayne’s con­tri­bu­tion de­serves the best pos­si­ble send-off. I un­der­stand that’s caused a lot of de­bate but it’s a small way of ap­pre­ci­at­ing what he’s given to his coun­try.

“We’re a strange coun­try in that we be­moan the fact that we haven’t achieved as much as we’d like, and then we have a player who should be held in the high­est re­gard and we’re spend­ing a lot of time jus­ti­fy­ing giv­ing him that trib­ute.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing with him and giv­ing him the send-off he de­serves, which isn’t al­ways pos­si­ble.

“We can as­sess, once ev­ery­thing’s fin­ished, whether that was the right thing to do and whether we’d do it again. Over a pe­riod I’ve tried to ap­proach things dif­fer­ently, and some of those de­ci­sions are a bit risky; some have paid off, some won’t. I’m com­pletely com­fort­able with the sit­u­a­tion.”

The 33-year-old Rooney had also been Eng­land cap­tain, but in his re­tire­ment South­gate’s youth­ful team cre­ated a new iden­tity with Harry Kane as its new leader.

Dis­miss­ing sug­ges­tions Rooney would be handed his long-time num­ber-10 shirt, South­gate re­gard­less re­vealed he would have “no is­sue” if he again wore the cap­tain’s arm­band, and his be­lief that the na­tional team’s setup has too of­ten over­looked great for­mer play­ers.

“The last game he played, when he came on, Jor­dan Hen­der­son ran over and gave him the arm­band as soon as he ran on the pitch,” he said. “That would de­pend on the cir­cum­stances and who’s out there, but I’ve no is­sue with that at all.

“The value of caps is very dif­fi­cult to be pre­cise on. You can come on with two min­utes to go be­cause you need a change; I’ve played when we’ve changed the whole team at half-time. This fix­ture is an op­por­tu­nity to learn about some new play­ers; we then have the game with Croa­tia which is im­por­tant to us and I want to pro­tect that squad as much as pos­si­ble in the first game. There seems to be a gen­eral feel­ing that the team from ‘66 maybe wasn’t recog­nised as might as they much have been, for cer­tain pe­ri­ods. We’ve tried to in­volve for­mer play­ers as much as pos­si­ble.

“If I’m a cur­rent player, the way for­mer play­ers are treated is very im­por­tant to me, be­cause you can see what the fu­ture holds for you.”

Nam­ing a 28-strong squad, South­gate also handed a re­call to Ever­ton de­fender Michael Keane, and re­tained Dort­mund’s Jadon

Sancho.

Cal­lum Wil­son in his Sky Blues days and Eng­land man­ager Gareth South­gate, top

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