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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 10, 2006

Man City's Richards gets England call up

Micah Richards, Michael Dawson and Ben Foster are the only uncapped members of Steve McClaren's mammoth 28-man squad for England's friendly with Holland in Amsterdam this week.

Richards had been tipped to receive a call, barely 12 months after making his Premiership debut, while Dawson has twice made the bench and was on Sven-Goran Eriksson's World Cup standby list but has yet to make his first appearance.

Although changes were expected in the wake of the disastrous October Euro 2008 qualifying double-header with Macedonia and Croatia, only Manchester United's Kieran Richardson has been dropped, while Joe Cole, Aaron Lennon and Andrew Johnson are all recalled after recent injuries.

Such a huge squad is virtually unprecedented for an England game, with all but seven players supplied by either Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.

With so many options available, the odds must be against either Richards or Dawson earning their first caps in the Dutch capital, although for the City man in particular, the experience of being exposed to the senior squad is bound to be beneficial.

The 18-year-old has already established himself as one of the most promising young players in the country and even though he has appeared for his country at under-21 level on three occasions, he has already attracted attention from Tottenham boss Martin Jol.

A graduate of City's prolific academy system, Richards has been an ever-present in Stuart Pearce's side this season, although he has largely operated at right-back rather than his favoured position in central defence.

McClaren's squad is a show of faith in the men who let him down in Zagreb, when it was not so much the defeat as the abject performance which raised eyebrows against the Croats.

However, it is possible there could be a less conservative approach to his team selection with at least three, and possibly four changes envisaged.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard is certain to return after suspension but it is easily possible to envisage a line-up containing Lennon, Cole and Johnson.

Although he has never actually started a game for England, Lennon's pace could be an invaluable asset down the right flank, which may prompt McClaren to abandon the experiment of playing Gerrard in a wide role.

Cole, now recovered from the knee problem which kept him out of McClaren's first five games in charge, would seem to be an automatic choice on the left given Stewart Downing's axing for the Croatia encounter and Scott Parker's failure to make the most of his opportunity.

In-form Johnson must also have an outside chance of starting too given England's recent lack of firepower, although McClaren is favoured to persevere with the partnership between Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Paul Robinson (Tottenham), Chris Kirkland (Wigan), Ben Foster (Man Utd)

Defenders: Gary Neville (Man Utd), Phil Neville (Everton), Micah Richards (Man City), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), John Terry (Chelsea), Ledley King (Tottenham), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Wes Brown (Man Utd), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Wayne Bridge (Chelsea)

Midfield: Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Michael Carrick (Man Utd), Scott Parker (Newcastle), Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Darren Bent (Charlton), Andrew Johnson (Everton).

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