Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater has been named in the England squad for the Euro 2016 warm-up games against Germany and the Netherlands.
It is the 26-year-old’s first call-up to the senior national team.
Roy Hodgson’s team travel to Berlin to face world champions Germany on Saturday, 26 March, then host the Dutch at Wembley on Tuesday, 29 March.
Tottenham full-back Danny Rose and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge are also included in a 24-man squad.
But Wayne Rooney is left out as he recovers from a knee injury.
Clubs represented in England squad:
- Tottenham and Liverpool: 5 players
- Everton: 3
- Man City, Leicester, Arsenal and Southampton: 2
- Chelsea, Man Utd and Stoke: 1
Drinkwater, a former Manchester United youth team player, has been an influential figure in the stunning rise of Leicester, who top the Premier League table with eight games to go.
“What he’s done has been evident to everybody,” said Hodgson. “He’s had a fantastic season, but even last year we were aware of him.”
Drinkwater’s Premier League stats:
- 1199 successful passes
- 80 tackles
- 46 interceptions
- 4 assists
- 1 goal
Hodgson added that the competition for a place in England’s midfield is “quite fierce” but said it was a good opportunity to see if Drinkwater “can reproduce the quality that he’s shown for Leicester”.
Hodgson says he “deliberately ignored” Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs and Everton full-back Leighton Baines in favour of Rose and Ryan Bertrand.
Manchester United’s Michael Carrick, 34, was overlooked in favour of Drinkwater but Hodgson said he could still make the squad for the finals in France.
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City).
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).
BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty:
Drinkwater is the stand-out name in Hodgson’s squad for the friendlies against Germany and The Netherlands – a reward for his outstanding role in Leicester City’s dream season.
While Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri often describes attacking pair Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez as “the pinnacle of the iceberg”, Drinkwater has anchored the midfield with reliability and no little ability.
He has a real chance to push his claims for a midfield holding role in England’s Euro 2016 squad, with Jack Wilshere sidelined and Michael Carrick surely now out of opportunities.
Dele Alli may be in contention for that position but Drinkwater can make a late bolt for inclusion if he impresses.
Like club-mate Vardy, he has been rewarded for patience, persistence and honest professionalism, having had loan spells at Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Watford and Barnsley before establishing himself at Leicester.
Rose is another who will hope to make his mark, while Hodgson takes the chance to assess if Sturridge is worth the gamble of taking to France.