Football: Kane rewarded with first England call-up for qualifier against Lithuania

LONDON (AFP) - Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane was on Thursday awarded his first England call-up for a 2016 European Championship qualifier against Lithuania and friendly against Italy.

The 21-year-old has scored 26 goals in 42 appearances this season, making him an obvious candidate for a place in England manager Roy Hodgson's squad.

"I think the whole country is excited," Hodgson told a press conference.

"His rise has been fantastic since he broke into the Tottenham team and he's done so well. It would have been much more of a surprise if he hadn't been selected."

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick returned to the 24-man squad, along with Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph and Spurs right-back Kyle Walker, but there were no first call-ups for Burnley striker Danny Ings or Queens Park Rangers forward Charlie Austin.

England are top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group E after winning their first four matches, six points clear of Slovenia, Switzerland and Lithuania.

They welcome Lithuania to Wembley on March 27 before tackling Italy in Turin four days later.

The squad:

Goalkeepers - Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City).

Defenders - Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling (all Man United), Walker (Tottenham).

Midfielders - Ross Barkley (Everton), Carrick (Man United), Delph (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana (both Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Forwards - Kane (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Man U), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).