Rooney included in England squad for qualifiers

Wayne Rooney has been included in the England squad for the

final two World Cup qualifiers despite missing Manchester United’s

last match through injury.

The striker is expected to recover from his shin injury to face

Montenegro and Poland later this month.

”We are reliably informed it is not a serious injury and it

won’t stop him joining up with us,” England coach Roy Hodgson said

Thursday.

Fellow forward Daniel Sturridge returns to the England squad

after missing last month’s qualifiers through injury. He will be

competing for a spot along with Daniel Welbeck, Jermain Defoe and

Rickie Lambert.

England has a one-point lead over Ukraine and Montenegro in

Group H. The group winner automatically secures a spot at the World

Cup next year, with the runner-up facing a playoff to qualify for

Brazil.

England hosts Montenegro on Oct. 11, and Poland is at Wembley

Stadium on Oct. 15.

Joe Hart will remain England’s first-choice goalkeeper despite

his form coming under scrutiny after being blamed for several goals

conceded by Manchester City.

”I’m not blind to the situation that has developed I do realize

this is not a good moment for Joe,” Hodgson said.

”I feel Joe will shrug this off,” he added. ”I’m sure he

isn’t happy with the criticism. I’m sure he isn’t happy to let in

goals he’ll think he could have stopped.”

But Hodgson wants to stick with experienced players, seeing the

final qualifiers as no time to experiment with the lineup.

”It will take a lot more than a bad game for any player before

I suggest he needs to be replaced,” Hodgson said.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Fraser Forster (Celtic), John

Ruddy (Norwich)

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea),

Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones

(Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle

Walker (Tottenham).

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester

United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Steven Gerrard

(Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester

City), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Rickie Lambert

(Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge

(Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United).