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What have we learnt from Sam Allardyce's first England squad?

Newly appointed England manager Sam Allardyce attends a press conference at St. George's Park
Image: Sam Allardyce has named his first England squad

Sam Allardyce has named the first England squad of his reign - but what does it tell us about his plans for the national team?

The 23-man squad will take on Slovakia in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in Trnava on September 4.

Here we take a look at what we learnt from his selection…

Antonio gets his chance

Michail Antonio scored against Manchester City on Sunday and the West Ham wide player was celebrating again later that evening following news he'd been called up to the England senior squad for the first time. The 26-year-old Londoner revealed in March he had rejected an opportunity to play for Jamaica so he could pursue his aim of playing for England and that decision has been justified with this call-up.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21:  Michail Antonio (#30) of West Ham United celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Ashley Fletcher during the Premie
Image: West Ham wide player Michail Antonio has received his first call-up

The winger has enjoyed a rapid rise since signing for West Ham in September 2015 from Championship side Nottingham Forest, impressing during the second half of last season for Slaven Bilic's side with eight goals and three assists.  

Antonio netted the winner against Bournemouth last weekend and his headed goal against City was the 10th he's scored since August 2015. No English midfielder has scored more in the Premier League in that time.

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"The quality of the player that has shone through in every league he's played in, and the impact, his attacking flair, and scoring record form a wide position - that's what has made me pick him," said Allardyce in his press conference on Monday. "I think he deserves to be in this squad, for me to have a look at him going forward."

Barkley must start to deliver

The most surprising omission from Allardyce's first squad - as the manager conceded himself in his Monday morning press conference - is 22-year-old Everton midfielder Ross Barkley. An unused player in England's Euro 2016 squad, Barkley said last week Roy Hodgson should have shown more faith in him and that he'd use his disappointment from the summer to kick on this season. Now he'll have to kick on simply to force his way back into the England set-up.

Ross Barkley captained Everton for the EFL Cup tie
Image: Ross Barkley is a surprise omission from Allardyce's squad

"It's not potential anymore. These young players have had a lot of games now. This is the England first-team. You want the players to be producing their top quality immediately," Allardyce said in his first press conference as England boss - and it seems he is not willing to select players based on what they could do in the future.

For Barkley that means he'll have to step up his contributions at Everton, where last season he recorded a best-ever eight goals and eight assists. This year he's scored once in the Premier League - a fortunate over-hit free-kick which went in against Tottenham - and set up another (Kevin Mirallas' strike against West Brom). His challenge is to deliver on a regular basis before the next round of international games in October. "For him it's disappointing but the door is always open and I have to make these decisions," said Allardyce on Monday. 

No call for Defoe

There had been speculation when Allardyce was appointed that he may favour players he's worked closely with before. Injuries to Aaron Cresswell and Andy Carroll ruled out the West Ham pair, while Mark Noble's wait for a senior cap goes on after he was overlooked by his former manager.

Jermain Defoe scores for Sunderland from the penalty spot
Image: Jermain Defoe has two goals in three games for Sunderland

However, Jermain Defoe was also absent from the list - despite being recommended for a place in England's Euro 2016 squad by his then-Sunderland boss Allardyce in May.

Defoe himself hasn't given up on adding to his 55 England caps, saying it would be a "dream" to earn a recall, and has scored twice in three Premier League games so far this season. He may be wondering what more he can do.   

Rooney's role clue? 

Wayne Rooney's place in the England squad was never in doubt - Allardyce, while stopping short of saying whether the Manchester United man would retain his captaincy or not, extolled his virtues when quizzed by Sky Sports about the forward recently and he has already racked up one goal and two assists in the Premier League.

Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring Manchester United's second goal
Image: Wayne Rooney could be used as a midfielder by England

Interestingly, Rooney was listed among the midfielders in the England squad, despite having played No 10 for Manchester United. Allardyce had said Rooney would play for England wherever Jose Mourinho opted to play him for United.

It seems Allardyce is likely to start with Harry Kane and/or Jamie Vardy up front against Slovakia. But will Rooney play a No 10 role behind them or occupy a deeper position to the one he is playing for his club? It seems likely to be the latter, given Allardyce's response to questions about the United player on Monday. 

"It's not a reflection of where I'm likely to play him. Shall we say attacking-midfielder? Or striker? I think Rooney's position has changed at Manchester United and that's where I'll be looking to play him. I may consider changing the format of the squad announcement next time, so it says no position!"

Terry remains retired

When asked last week whether he would consider trying to tempt former England captain John Terry out of retirement, Allardyce refused to rule out the possibility. The Chelsea skipper would have added experience to the camp but questions over his relationship with the FA remained an important factor.

Troy Deeney of Watford stretches to get to the ball before John Terry
Image: There had been speculation John Terry could be set for a return

The public opinion on the potential recall was split, with 51 per cent of readers voting that Allardyce should not ask Terry to return.

Reports in some newspapers claim Terry did in fact reject a request from Allardyce. However, what matters is that, for now, Terry is not involved in the England set-up.

Sam has faith in Sturridge

"I do think form at a football club has a place when you are making your selection," said Allardyce in July, when discussing how he would go about picking his England squads. It seems then, that Daniel Sturridge - who has played just 67 minutes of Premier League football this season - is firmly in his plans for this World Cup qualifying campaign. 

Daniel Sturridge shoots at goal during the EFL Cup second round match at Burton Albion
Image: Daniel Sturridge scored twice against Burton Albion

The Liverpool striker missed every one of England's Euro 2016 qualifiers through injury and was also absent for the Reds' opener at Arsenal with a hip problem. He played 65 minutes in the defeat to Burnley, scored twice in a 25-minute cameo against Burton Albion in the EFL Cup and came on for the final two minutes against Tottenham on Saturday. 

Defoe and Marcus Rashford - who has returned to the under-21s - have scored in the Premier League this season but both were left out of the senior squad, while it seems Sturridge will get his chance to impress the England manager ahead of the World Cup qualifier in Slovakia. 

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