Sturridge for England – AVB

The clamour for Sturridge to be handed his first senior

international call-up grew on Saturday after the striker scored his

fourth goal in four Premier League games this season, this time in

a 3-1 win over Everton. The 22-year-old, who has been one of the

stars of 2011, was last week touted as a possible replacement for

Wayne Rooney in England’s European Championship group matches next

summer following the Manchester United star’s three-match ban.

Sturridge has so far been overlooked by Fabio Capello, although he

was in the provisional squad for this month’s final qualifier in

Montenegro and appears certain to be included for November’s

friendly double-header against Spain and Sweden. Blues boss

Villas-Boas said: “I don’t want to influence any kind of decision

but, eventually, any English player who is performing can get a

call-up for the national team. “He was pre-selected, eventually he

was not selected for the final squad, but that means that he is

close and that it can happen for him.” He added: “He plays for a

top club in the world so I don’t see any reason why not.”

Villas-Boas has given Sturridge his big break at Chelsea this

season after the forward endured limited opportunities under Carlo

Ancelotti, who loaned him out to Bolton for the second half of last

season. That gave the striker the first-team football he craved and

he did enough to convince new manager Villas-Boas of his abilities.

He also convinced Bolton boss Owen Coyle – a good friend of

Villas-Boas – to attempt another loan, a move that was politely but

firmly rebuffed. Villas-Boas said: “I think we always wanted to see

him, and that’s why we decided to bring him back to our training

camp and assess him and make the wise decision.” Sturridge’s goal

on Saturday helped Chelsea maintain their 100% home record this

season and kept them in the thick of the title race. They now trail

Manchester United by just one point and are three adrift of new

leaders Manchester City. A win at QPR on Sunday would see them move

at least level on points with the side who ends the same day’s

Manchester derby in second place. They still have an inferior goal

difference to both clubs but Villas-Boas said: “It’s matchday eight

and still a lot of things can happen. We are near, we are not far

away in terms of goalscoring.” He added: “I don’t recall a Premier

League like this for a couple of years, with three teams so tight

together. “It means that the Premier League has become more

competitive and more teams are challenging for the title.”