Roy Hodgson has explained the reasoning behind his selections for England’s 26-man provisional squad for the European Championship.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford was the surprise inclusion among Hodgson’s picks for this summer’s tournament, with the 18-year-old not having even made his senior debut for the club until February.
Speaking after announcing his squad, Hodgson explained that while Rashford’s chances of making the final squad are slim, the striker deserves the opportunity.
“He is one of the contenders,” Hodgson said. “The competition for him is strong but he has had a fantastic end to the season and deserves to be selected in this larger squad and I am interested to see what he can do.
“It will be interesting to see what he can do, it may only be for one week, but I am pleased that he has had such a good end to the season.
“It’s great to be able to include him. There’s no reason why he can’t knock someone off their perch, but it will be harder than some people might expect.”
On the rest of the squad, Hodgson added: “I didn’t want to name people in a preparation squad who were unfit. I was pleased to see Jordan Henderson come back.
“Whether they played enough games is another matter,” Hodgson said, in relation to the inclusion of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere. “To be honest, there’s quite a few players I would have liked to have less games.
“I was pleased to see Jordan back, and Jack’s been back for the last two.
“Everyone enjoys saying ‘This is what I would have done’ but we’ve done a lot of work to analyse the players in the squad.
“As a coach, all you can do is prepare the team for one game at a time. We’ll see how far that takes us.
“With the youth of this squad, I’d like to think it will have a long future. We go there with a desire to win the tournament.
“I’ve got three matches before Russia. Who knows what will happen in those games?
“I don’t want the players to be fearful or be weighed down with any expectation. We’ll give it our best shot.
“I would like to tell the final 23 they are in the squad after the Australia game.”
England have three friendlies ahead of the tournament. They face Turkey at the Manchester City Stadium on May 22, then play Australia at the Stadium of Light five days later. They will host Portugal at Wembley on June 2, before opening their Group B campaign at the Euros against Russia nine days later.