Stuart Pearce selects his squad for Azerbaijan and Norway
Stuart Pearce has handed debut call-ups to two Championship stars as the Head Coach hopes to steer his England Under-21 squad to play-off glory in the next fortnight.
Blackpool's former England U17 and U19 winger Thomas Ince, son of former England star Paul, joins Leicester City's Ben Marshall in earning a first ever call-up to the England Under-21 squad, ahead of their qualifiers against Azerbaijan in Baku and Norway in Chesterfield.
With England currently sitting top of Group 8 – two points clear of Norway – wins against Azerbaijan and Norway would secure Pearce's young charges a play-off double header in October, where outright victory over two legs would see the Young Lions progress to the 2013 European Under-21 Championship Finals in Israel.
With Jack Butland having progressed to the England Senior squad in the summer, along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, there are starting places up for grabs ahead of next week's meet-up.
Norwich City's Declan Rudd returns to the squad hoping to challenge Team GB man Jason Steele and Manchester United's Ben Amos, for the number one jersey vacated by Butland.
Meanwhile, Jack Rodwell, a recent big money signing for Manchester City, returns to the England Under-21 fold having experienced life with Roy Hodgson's Senior squad as they defeated Italy 2-1 earlier this month.
Rodwell will join Under-21 captain, and established Premier League star Jordan Henderson, as well as the likes of Martin Kelly, Danny Rose and Stephen Caulker, all plying their trade in the top division in England.
The Three Lions play in Baku on Thursday 6 September (kick-off 4pm BST), before returning to England to face their Norwegian counterparts at Chesterfield's Proact Stadium on Monday 10 September.
Hear Pearce's thoughts on the squad by watching FATV's exclusive video interview via the link on the right.
Goalkeepers: Ben Amos (Hull City – on loan from Manchester United), Declan Rudd (Norwich City), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)
Defenders: Ryan Bennett (Norwich City), Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion), Martin Kelly (Liverpool), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Adam Smith (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Thomas Ince (Blackpool), Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest). Jason Lowe (Blackburn Rovers), Josh McEachran (Middlesbrough – on loan from Chelsea), Jack Rodwell (Manchester City), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Wilfred Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Forwards: Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Ben Marshall (Leicester City), Marvin Sordell (Bolton Wanderers), Connor Wickham (Sunderland), Martyn Waghorn (Leicester City)
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