World Cup 2010: Theo Walcott left out of England squad
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott was the surprise omission from Fabio Capello’s 23-man England World Cup squad.
Walcott, 21, who has 11 caps, started both of England’s recent friendly victories against Mexico and Japan.
Darren Bent, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, Michael Dawson, Leighton Baines and Tom Huddlestone also miss out.
Gareth Barry is included after a fitness test on his ankle injury, while Stephen Warnock, Michael Carrick and Ledley King also make the squad.
Walcott was a shock member of former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson’s 2006 World Cup squad, having never started a Premier League game but he did not feature in the tournament and the then-17-year-old’s inclusion was widely criticised.
The right winger has since scored three international goals, all coming in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying victory against Croatia in Zagreb on 10 September 2008.
But after suffering with shoulder, back, knee and hamstring problems this season he has been restricted to 15 starts for Arsenal this term, with his form suffering as a result.
Walcott said in a statement: “I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr Capello’s decision.
“I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament.”
Former England captain Alan Shearer was not surprised by Capello’s decision to select tried and tested players to take to South Africa.
“It was inevitable but I think Fabio said some months ago when he first took the job that players must be in form and playing regularly for their clubs,” said Shearer.
England always play with a target man so Rooney and Defoe are always ahead of Bent. Barring injury I never thought he’d be on the plane
“Joe Cole isn’t playing well and hasn’t done for Chelsea and Emile Heskey hasn’t played well for Aston Villa but on the other hand I can understand why he has done it because they are tried and trusted in his formation and in his squad.”
Tottenham skipper King, 29, has been plagued by a chronic knee problem that restricts his ability to train and play back-to-back games in quick succession.
He featured for the first time under coach Fabio Capello against Mexico on 24 May, scoring with a first-half header.
King had previously been named in a Capello squad in March 2009 but withdrew after being assessed by the England medical staff.
Warnock’s only England appearance came as an 84th minute substitute in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago in May 2008.
The Aston Villa defender, 28, has previously played for Liverpool and Blackburn as well as loan spells at Bradford and Coventry, and has been preferred in the squad to Baines, who played against Mexico last week and Egypt in March.
Tottenham defender Dawson and West Ham midfielder Parker did not feature in either of the games against Mexico and Japan while Manchester City winger Johnson only got a run out as a late substitute.
Huddlestone was impressive in Tottenham’s midfield as they finished the Premier League in fourth place.
ENGLAND SQUAD – MOST CAPPED PLAYERS
Steven Gerrard – 80 caps
Rio Ferdinand – 78 caps
Ashley Cole – 78 caps
Frank Lampard – 78 caps
John Terry – 60 caps
Wayne Rooney – 60 caps
Emile Heskey – 58 caps
The 23-year-old came on as a substitute against Mexico and started against Japan but did not force his way into the final 23.
Sunderland striker Bent was the third highest scorer in the 2009-10 Premier League season with 24 goals but has also missed out.
And former England winger Chris Waddle admitted Bent’s omission was understandable considering the way England play.
“It’s hard for Darren Bent,” said Waddle.
“He got 23 goals for Sunderland but England always play with a target man so Rooney and Defoe are always ahead of Bent. Barring injury I never thought he’d be on the plane.”
Manchester City midfielder Barry, 29, has not played since he picked up a ligament injury in a Premier League match against Tottenham on 5 May and had an extensive test on his injured ankle on Tuesday morning.
Joe Cole is now fully fit after a serious knee ligament injury and produced an impressive second-half cameo during Sunday’s 2-1 win against Japan.
And Waddle, who played for England at the World Cup in 1990, said Cole had benefitted from Johnson’s inexperience after Capello decided to leave the Manchester City man at home.
“Adam Johnson has played very well,” said Waddle.
“He looked very good in the five minutes in the friendly and I think it was between him and Joe Cole and he’s gone for Cole.”
The World Cup begins on 11 June, with England’s first game coming a day later against the United States in Rustenburg.
England’s 23-man squad for the World Cup finals:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham).
Defenders: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa).
Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Aston Villa), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City).
Forwards: Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).