Sam Allardyce marked his first squad announcement as England manager on Sunday by including uncapped West Ham United midfielder Michail Antonio in a 23-man party for next week’s World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.
Antonio was included on the same day he scored for the Hammers in their 3-1 loss away to Premier League leaders Manchester City.
The 26-year-old has adjusted well to life in the Premier League since joining the Hammers from Nottingham Forest a year ago.
He scored nine goals in 32 appearances for the London club last season, while his two most recent Hammers games have seen Antonio head in against both Bournemouth and City.
“I think he’s in outstanding form,” Allardyce told the Football Association’s website as he explained his decision to select Antonio.
“This is another lad with a great journey — it’s a fantastic journey that he’s been on, from non-league to now an international call-up. He scored nine goals in his first season and he’s a terrific athlete, a good crosser and a goal-scorer.
“I’m looking forward to him coming, and looking forward to meeting everybody. Hopefully we will have a good few days’ preparation and get to know each other on the basis of trying to go and win in Slovakia.”
Everton’s Ross Barkley, an unused squad member during England’s miserable Euro 2016 campaign that concluded with the embarrassment of a defeat by Iceland, was dropped despite scoring two goals in his first four matches this season.
James Milner, who has retired from international football, was omitted along with Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, now in the Under-21 squad, and the injured duo of Ryan Bertrand and Jack Wilshere.
As expected goalkeeper Joe Hart was retained despite losing his first-team place at City under new manager Pep Guardiola while, equally unsurprisingly, Allardyce opted against recalling John Terry, the retired former England captain, after indicating he could contact the Chelsea centre-half.
However, there were recalls for Danny Drinkwater, a midfielder with English champions Leicester City, defenders Phil Jagielka (Everton) and Luke Shaw (Manchester United), as well as Arsenal’s Theo Walcott after they all failed to make it into former England manager Roy Hodgson’s squad in France.
Allardyce has yet to announce his England captain, although Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, who skippered the side at Euro 2016, was included in Sunday’s squad as a midfielder.
Rooney, England’s record goalscorer, played as a central midfielder in France but United manager Jose Mourinho has restored him to an attacking role and Allardyce is expected to do likewise.
England squad to play Slovakia in a 2018 World Cup Group F qualifier in Trnava on Sunday, September 4 (1600 GMT kick-off):
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)