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Nov 14, 2012

Sterling, Osman, Caulker get England starts

Raheem Sterling, Leon Osman and Steven Caulker will all be handed their England debuts in Wednesday's friendly against Sweden in Stockholm.

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The trio have all been named in manager Roy Hodgson's starting line-up for the inaugural fixture at the Friends Arena in the Swedish capital.

Liverpool winger Sterling, 17 years and 342 days old, and Everton midfielder Osman, aged 31 years and 181 days, represent the biggest age gap between England debutants in the same match in the post-war era.

Tottenham Hotspur defender Caulker, who has represented England at Under-21 level and was part of the Team GB squad at the 2012 Olympics, will also earn his first senior cap.

"Steven Caulker and Raheem have been playing regularly for the Under-21s and have made that transition you expect players to make when they are playing well for the Under-21s into the national team," Hodgson said. "Leon Osman is the odd one out, he's a bit different. He has been performing regularly and well for Everton but has been passed over. I thought it was time to give him a chance because he has been one of the unsung heroes of a very good football club and a very good football team for many years.

"He is a very energetic player, and the fact he is 31 surprises me because he plays like a much younger man. Let's hope that continues and I won't have to worry about his birth certificate."

Sterling will become England's fifth-youngest player, marking another major step in his breakthrough season. The Jamaica-born forward has started ten Premier League games for Liverpool this season, and his eye-catching performances have been rewarded by Hodgson.

"In some of the Liverpool games I have seen, he has pretty much been the star player," Hodgson, who worked with Sterling when he was Liverpool manager, said. "He is extremely dangerous with his ability to run with the ball, his pace and directness. He has even scored one or two important goals.

"If he can do it on a regular basis for Liverpool in the Premier League I have every right to think he can do it playing for England as well."

England team v Sweden: Hart (Manchester City), Johnson (Liverpool), Cahill (Chelsea), Caulker (Tottenham), Baines (Everton), Gerrard (Liverpool), Cleverley (Manchester United), Osman (Everton), Sterling (Liverpool), Welbeck (Manchester United), Young (Manchester United).

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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