Stuart Pearce picks 27-man group for Azerbaijan and Israel games.
Stuart Pearce has called up 12 new players to his strong 27-man England Under-21 squad for games with Azerbaijan and Israel in the next fortnight.
A host of fresh faces have joined a list of experienced Under-21 campaigners for the latest qualification period, as Pearce bids to see his side through to the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Finals in Israel.
Amongst the new names are West Bromwich Albion's Craig Dawson, his first England call at any level, and he is joined by Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Liverpool’s Jon Flanagan, Jonjo Shelvey and Andre Wisdom who all make the step up to Under-21 football after previously representing the Young Lions in other age groups.
England face Azerbaijan in their opening Group 8 encounter at Watford on Thursday 1 September (7.30pm BST) with tickets still available at just £10 for adults and £5 for children by calling 0844 856 1881 or click here to book.
The Young Lions also play Israel in a friendly at Barnsley on Monday 5 September (7pm BST) with tickets also priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children, which are available by calling 0871 22 66 777 or clicking here.
A number of players involved in the last campaign remain eligible for the new two-year cycle, including the likes of Manchester United’s Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck, as well as Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and Martin Kelly, Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Jack Rodwell (Everton) and strikers Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa) and Connor Wickham (Sunderland).
The experience amongst that group will be invaluable as Pearce’s side look to hit the ground running against the Azeri.
“Our focus is going to have to be spot on from the offset because we’re in a qualifier straight away,” Pearce told TheFA.com.
“We really could be in the driving seat or alternatively it could be up in the air. I’ve got a feeling, looking at the sides in our group, that getting to the Finals will be difficult.”
Pearce has also included a number of players with England senior team experience, which also acts as an extra incentive to those involved in what is effectively the senior's own breeding ground.
“You’ve got the likes of Welbeck, who is a still an Under-21 player, around the senior squad; the likes of Henderson mentioned in squads, and Walker.
“There are a lot of players who have gone through the system and that is also what we’re trying to achieve, give them as much experience as we humanly can, at all the age groups.
“I’m very pleased that a lot of players are pushing through at both club and country level.”
Watford fans will also be able to see one of their own at Vicarage Road next week as former England U20 forward Marvin Sordell joins the squad, alongside another former Hornet, Henri Lansbury (Arsenal).
Three new goalkeepers enter the squad, all vying for the number one spot in the absence of the injured Jason Steele.
Five of the 27-strong group have tasted success previously with the U17s, who lifted the European Championship trophy in 2010, including Wisdom, Barkley, Wickham, Josh McEachran (Chelsea) and Jack Butland (Birmingham City).
For the latest Under-21s updates visit www.TheFA.com/EnglandU21s or follow www.twitter.com/thefadotcom
The Squad (Click on name for profile)
Goalkeepers: Ben Amos (Manchester United), Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Declan Rudd (Norwich City).
Defenders: Nathan Baker (Aston Villa), Joe Bennett (Middlesbrough), Matthew Briggs (Fulham), Steven Caulker (Swansea City, loan from Tottenham), Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion), Jon Flanagan (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Martin Kelly (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool).
Ross Barkley (Everton), Dan Gosling (Newcastle United), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Emmanuel Frimpong (Arsenal), Henri Lansbury (Arsenal), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool).
Forwards: Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Marvin Sordell (Watford), Martyn Waghorn (Leicester City), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Connor Wickham (Sunderland).