Rodwell 'thrilled' with England call
Jack Rodwell's first reaction upon receiving a call from England was to think one of his mates was winding him up. However, after realising that was not the case, the 20-year-old will report for duty at England's Watford training base tomorrow night wondering if he will get the chance to fulfil a childhood dream in Saturday's friendly against Spain.
"It is a brilliant feeling," Rodwell said. "I was just at home and a woman from the FA called me to confirm I was in the squad. At first I thought it was a prank, but then I realised it wasn't. It was my childhood dream, so now I am over the moon. I'd heard rumours that I could be in the squad, but I was hopeful more than anything."
Rodwell has clearly made plenty of progress over the past 18 months. After all, when England manager Fabio Capello was asked three months before the FIFA World Cup™ whether Rodwell had an outside chance of being involved, the Italian responded as though he was not exactly sure who Rodwell was.
Since then, the youngster has finally shrugged off the injury problems that blighted his progress on Merseyside and has become one of the few shining lights in an otherwise poor campaign so far for Everton. "I have played for England at every level apart from Under-20s, so I know what to expect," Rodwell said. "I don't think it will be a shock, although the seniors will be a bit different. But I know people there and they will help me through."
For even a slight amount of focus to be on Rodwell makes a change from the spotlight that has been shining so intensely on John Terry. Capello has indicated he does not intend to use Terry against Spain, but if Rodwell's Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka misses out with a foot problem as expected it will reduce Capello's options, particularly if he carries out his intent to select Manchester United's Phil Jones in midfield rather than defence.
Capello could pair Joleon Lescott with Gary Cahill, but that would still leave him without cover on the bench, so it will be interesting to discover whether he intends to draft in a replacement should Jagielka return home.
All this should wash straight over Rodwell's head given his elation at being the latest player to step up from Under-21 duty, following on from the likes of Jones, Jack Wilshere and Chris Smalling. "Stuart Pearce says to all the squad that from the Under-21s the next step is the seniors," Rodwell added. "A few of the lads have done that already.
"Hopefully I will get on the pitch. I have got to impress in training, but I am just thrilled to be there to be honest."
As one of 11 players in Capello's squad with six caps or less, Rodwell is aiming to gatecrash a place at UEFA EURO 2012. The fall-back position is selection for the Great Britain Olympic team, to be coached by Pearce next summer. "I am not even thinking that far ahead," he said. "There is the Olympics and the Europeans but I'm concentrating on my form for Everton."