Reading keeper earns national team recognition following impressive Royals displays.
England manager Roy Hodgson has recalled striker Andy Carroll and awarded a surprise first call-up to Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy for upcoming friendlies with the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.
McCarthy, 23, is rewarded for his impressive recent form for Reading, despite the club’s relegation from the Premier League, while Carroll returns after scoring six goals in 12 games for West Ham United in the latter stages of his loan spell from Liverpool.
McCarthy caught the eye in his side’s 2-0 loss to Manchester City on Tuesday and Hodgson admitted the decision to name him in the squad had been made recently.
“I thought now, with Alex having done so well in the games I’ve seen him play and in the reports I’ve received of his, this is a good chance to bring him in behind Joe Hart and Ben Foster,” he said.
“We’ll see how he copes with being in a senior squad. He deserves his place because he’s played well.”
Hodgson said Carroll’s height and physicality would give him a useful alternative to the slighter and more nimble strikers at his disposal.
“In a squad of players, you need various qualities,” Hodgson told Sky Sports News.
“You don’t necessarily fill your team with players who are much of a muchness, who virtually clone each other. It is very good to have some on your team who give you another dimension, because games pan out in different ways.
“There is always going to be room for a centre-forward of his class, his type; who is good at holding the ball up, very good at attacking crosses.”
England tackle Ireland at Wembley on May 29 before flying to Rio de Janeiro to take on 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil on June 2, in what will be the first official match to be played in the refurbished Maracana stadium.
England currently trail Montenegro by two points in UEFA World Cup qualifying Group H, and Hodgson says he will use the end-of-season games as an opportunity to assess his options prior to the resumption of the qualifying competition in the European autumn.
“I regard them as preparation games, rather than friendly games,” he said.
“I’m more interested in this squad to give the players who I think might be more important to us in the qualifiers in September and October a chance to really play.
“(I don’t want) a situation where in every game you are trying to use 18 players instead of playing long periods and instead getting a 15- to 20-minute cameo.”
With Steven Gerrard absent after undergoing shoulder surgery, Hodgson must select a temporary captain for the two matches.
Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney are the leading candidates, but Hodgson will also ask left-back Ashley Cole if he would like to captain the side against Ireland on the occasion of his 100th cap.
England squad for friendly games against the Republic of Ireland, in London on May 29, and Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro on June 2:
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Alex McCarthy (Reading)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole (both Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley (both Manchester United), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott (both Arsenal)
Forwards: Andy Carroll (West Ham United, on loan from Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)