England manager Roy Hogdson has named his squad for the upcoming clash with Ireland at Wembley. There’ll be no switch of allegiance for young Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. He earns his first call-up to the senior side. Meanwhile, Ashley Cole, who will celebrate his 100th appearance, could captain the team as could Wayne Rooney against the country of his grandmother’s birth.
Twenty-three-year-old McCarthy was capped three times for the England U21’s but there have been reports that he was considering declaring for Ireland. In the past Shane Long has spoken of talking to his former Reading club-mate about a switch. McCarthy was named in the provisional Team GB squad for the London 2012 Olympics but ultimately failed to make the final cut.
Roy Hodgson stated that Frank Lampard and Rooney were the captains-elect in the absence of Gerrard but Ashely Cole will celebrate his 100th cap against Ireland and that achievement has often been recognised with the armband. The England manager commented that Cole has indicated in the past that he was happy to stay out of the limelight.
Rooney has often alluded to his strong Irish roots with his celtic-cross tattoo, support of Glasgow Celtic FC and the revelation that his earliest World Cup memory was his family watching Ray Houghton’s famous winner against Italy in the Giants Stadium in 1994.
“I have always remembered that goal. It was my first World Cup moment. Never forget it.”
His grandmother Patricia Fitzsimons was once asked if her grandson would ever have played for Ireland: “Nah, he’s English on the outside but Irish on the inside.” Rooney’s wife Colleen also boasts Irish ancestry and tweeted an image of their son Kai in an Irish kit to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Big Irish support is expected at the game with a large contingent crossing the Irish Sea and the Green Army will be bolstered by the huge ex-pat community in London.
The game is the first of four in the space of two weeks for the Republic of Ireland. The Wembley meeting is taking place to mark the 150th anniversary of the FA. England will travel to Rio four days later to face Brazil while Ireland will play Georgia in an Aviva Stadium friendly in preparation for a key World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands. On June 11th, Ireland cross the Atlantic to take on Spain at Yankee Stadium, New York.
Ireland’s clash with England is the first since the infamous Lansdowne Road riots in 1995 and the first at Wembley since 1991 when Niall Quinn’s equaliser cancelled out Lee Dixon’s deflected opener.
England squad to face Ireland and Brazil:
Foster, Hart, McCarthy; Baines, Cahill, Cole, Jagielka, Johnson, Jones, Lescott, Walker, Carrick, Cleverley, Lampard, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott; Carroll, Defoe, Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck