Danny Drinkwater named in England squad for March friendlies
By Stephen Turner
Last Updated: 17/03/16 10:37pm
Danny Drinkwater has been named in the England squad for this month's friendlies with Germany and the Netherlands.
The Leicester midfielder earns a first call-up in an otherwise familiar 24-man squad featuring one other uncapped player - Tottenham left-back Danny Rose.
Manchester United's Michael Carrick is the standout midfield omission, while Rose and Ryan Bertrand are preferred to fit-again Everton left-back Leighton Baines and Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs.
Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Danny Welbeck and Fraser Forster are all included after missing out on the autumn friendlies through injury.
Hodgson said: "Danny Drinkwater's had a fantastic season in a team that's having a fantastic season.
"Even last year we were aware of him, and on this occasion I thought it was a good opportunity to bring him in and see if he can reproduce his football for Leicester at an international level."
Hodgson added: "He and (N'Golo) Kante have provided an incredible central axis in the Leicester team. I think they've got a very, very high work-rate and their ability to cover the ground has been very good.
"Drinkwater has been a good outlet in terms of the passing, received a lot of balls from the back and he's kept the game moving, increasing or decreasing the tempo where necessary.
"He's capable of spreading the play with long passes and he's even chipped in with a few goals, although I don't think he sets himself up as a goalscorer.
"The way they play, if Drinkwater was bombing forward then Kante would have a lot of work to do on his own because they play with two wide players.
"Really, we've just been impressed with the qualities that he's shown with Leicester. We think they are qualities that could quite easily be transported to an international stage.
"(He has) 10 days when he works us, he is in training with us, he will be playing a game if not two. Let's wait and see.
"But he'll be playing a game. I wouldn't bring him here to keep him on the bench for the two games, so he'll have a chance to show it. Afterwards, we'll have a better idea."
Rose is one of five Spurs players in the squad, and Hodgson said: "On this occasion I deliberately ignored Kieran and Leighton. On this occasion I chose to take Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand who appeared with us later than those other two, two players we know a little bit less."
On Carrick's absence he said: "That doesn't mean to say he's disappeared off the list."
The "door is open" for others to gatecrash the squad, according to Hodgson, but with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still to return from injury the manager acknowledged it will now be "a task" for any newcomer to make the May 12 cut for Euro 2016.
"I'm not prepared to say 'this is it'," he said. "At the moment we're looking at a fairly large group of players, but who knows? There are still five or six weeks left of the season."
I'm not prepared to say 'this is it'. At the moment we're looking at a fairly large group of players.
England play Gemany in Berlin on March 26 before hosting the Dutch at Wembley the following Tuesday.
Squad: Butland, Forster, Hart, Bertrand, Cahill, Clyne, Jagielka, Rose, Smalling, Stones, Walker, Alli, Barkley, Dier, Drinkwater, Henderson, Lallana, Milner, Sterling, Kane, Sturridge, Vardy, Welbeck, Walcott.