England coach Fabio Capello has called up Emile Heskey for next Wednesday's friendly against Czech Republic, but their was no place in his squad for Peter Crouch. The Italian was at Upton Park earlier today to watch Heskey in action for Wigan Athletic.
The Latics lost 2-1 there to West Ham United, whose goals were scored by Dean Ashton. However, after the Hammers striker was ruled out with injury, Capello turned to Heskey instead of Portsmouth's new recruit Crouch. Aston Villa's Ashley Young was the other surprise absentee, while there was no place either for Tottenham Hotspur forward Darren Bent.
After four friendlies to get a feel for the job, the real work starts now for Capello as next month's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifiers with Andorra and Croatia loom large. And Capello has turned to the familiar figure of Heskey for England's final run-out.
Heskey looked like coming to Steve McClaren's rescue when he was restored to the England fold last September, only for injury to rule him out after impressive performances against Israel and Russia. With Michael Owen missing and Wayne Rooney due to make his return from injury for Manchester United, though, the 30-year-old should be involved at some point.
While Young has time on his side, the omens do not look encouraging for Crouch, who left Liverpool for Portsmouth in an £11-million deal this summer. No fewer than 13 members of England's 23-man squad are in action on Sunday.
Theo Walcott survived in the senior squad when many others, including highly-rated defender Micah Richards, found themselves returning to U-21 duty. Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart also kept his place, although Paul Robinson was included along with veteran David James.
In defence, Manchester United captain Gary Neville has been overlooked after Sir Alex Ferguson said the right-back needed more action at club level before he can be considered for international duty. Capello's assistant Franco Baldini will be at Old Trafford on Sunday to see United - and Rooney - tackle Newcastle United.
The coach himself will watch Chelsea in action against Portsmouth, taking one last look at John Terry before deciding whether the defender will retain the captain's armband or if he will give it to Rio Ferdinand when he makes his final decision on Tuesday.
Defensive duo Matthew Upson and Jonathan Woodgate will join up on Sunday night, with David Beckham flying in from Los Angeles before travelling on to Beijing to take part in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.
Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham Hotspur), Matthew Upson (West Ham United)
Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), David Bentley (Tottenham Hotspur)