Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney were named in the England soccer squad for its last two World Cup qualifying matches against Montenegro and Poland.
The strikers missed last month’s qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine to leave coach Roy Hodgson short on attacking options. England beat Moldova 4-0 at home but could only draw 0-0 in Ukraine.
United’s Danny Welbeck is also in the 23-man squad for the games that take place later this month, the Football Association said today on its website. He missed the Ukraine match because of a suspension. Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are out with injuries.
England, which leads its qualifying group by a point from Ukraine and Montenegro, needs to win both matches to guarantee a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“It’s a very strong squad of players,” Hodgson said at a televised news conference. “We don’t need to even debate how important these games are to us as a footballing nation, but I’m confident that these are the players that can take us there.”
Rooney, who’s scored five goals in seven United appearances this season, missed the club’s Champions League draw at Shakhtar Donetsk yesterday after damaging a shin in training but is set to return for the Premier League game at Sunderland this weekend.
Sturridge has seven goals in eight matches for Liverpool this season, including one against United in the Premier League. He’s appeared six times for England and scored his only senior international goal in an 8-0 win over San Marino in March.
The top teams in the nine European qualifying groups advance to the tournament, while the best eight second-place teams play for four places.
England faces Montenegro on Oct. 11 and Poland four days later. Both games are at Wembley Stadium.
ENGLAND SQUAD: Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich City). Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham). Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal). Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).