LONDON • Roy Hodgson has handed both Daniel Sturridge and the 18-year-old Marcus Rashford an opportunity to make a mark at football's European Championship, starting in France on June 10, after including the strikers among a quintet of forwards in his final 23-man England squad.
The manager, who had already seen Fabian Delph ruled out with a groin injury, chose to omit Leicester City's Danny Drinkwater and the Newcastle United winger Andros Townsend as he trimmed his party yesterday to meet Uefa's deadline.
The pair were told they had not made the cut in a face-to-face meeting with Hodgson after training at Watford's London Colney base in the morning.
Sturridge's inclusion comes after he proved he had recovered fully from his latest calf complaint, which had ruled him out of last Friday's friendly victory over Australia at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.
The Liverpool forward, who has played only 58 minutes for his country since September 2014, worked on his fitness over the weekend and has now completed two sessions with the squad in preparation for tomorrow's final pre-tournament friendly, against Portugal.
He will hope to play some part in that game at Wembley.
England's final 23
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)
Midfielders Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (United), Wayne Rooney (United, captain), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester).
The inclusion of Rashford is arguably more eye-catching, given he was playing Under-18s academy football at Manchester United only a few months ago.
In the period since he has scored on his first-team, Premier League and senior England debuts, as well as in his first Manchester derby, with his form persuading Hodgson that he would be an asset in France despite the fact that Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy will start as the team's first-choice forwards.
While Drinkwater's omission, despite a fine season as a key member of Leicester City's Premier League title winners, was expected, the decision to cut Townsend from the party was taken despite Gary Neville, the assistant coach, championing the Newcastle player's cause.
Neville had contemplated trying to sign the 24-year-old, then with Tottenham Hotspur, during his stint in charge of Valencia and had pointed to the variety he would offer the squad as a natural wide player.
His form for Newcastle since January had been impressive.
However, Hodgson had recalled Townsend to the set-up only when Danny Welbeck was ruled out with a knee injury and had granted the winger only 14 minutes to make a mark in the games against Turkey and Australia this month.
By trimming him from the party, the England manager has in effect retained the balance he had always expected for his squad, with five strikers - plus Raheem Sterling, who can operate centrally if required - eight midfielders and seven defenders.
England open their Euro 2016 campaign against Russia in Marseille on June 11 and will also face Slovakia and neighbours Wales in Group B.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE