LONDON (AP) — England coach Roy Hodgson rewarded Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley for their strong starts to the season by calling them up for the first time Tuesday for key World Cup qualifiers.
Townsend, a 22-year-old Tottenham winger, was selected three months after being sanctioned by the English Football Association for betting breaches and pulling out of the under-21 squad for the European Championship.
"He was on our radar before the under-21s tournament and has started so well for Tottenham," Hodgson said. Barkley, a 19-year-old midfielder, has already scored for Everton this season. "We have given ourselves a chance to look at players who have a bright future and are capable of making an impact," Hodgson said.
Rickie Lambert, a 31-year-old Southampton striker, retained his place in the squad for the Moldova and Ukraine qualifiers at the start of September after scoring the winner on his England debut earlier this month against Scotland.
Daniel Sturridge, who has scored the winner in each of Liverpool's games so far this season, returns to the squad after missing the Scotland friendly through injury. Jermain Defoe retains his place among the striking options despite not starting yet for Tottenham this season.
Wayne Rooney, though, can expect to lead the strike force against Moldova at Wembley Stadium on Sept. 6 and in Kiev against Ukraine on Sept. 10. The Manchester United striker will be on England duty when the transfer window closes on Monday, although the chances of him moving to Chelsea appear to be fading.
Joe Hart remains Hodgson's first-choice goalkeeper despite a blunder in the Scotland game and concerns about his performances for Manchester City. "When you do make a mistake you are going to be criticized for it, but if he is going to continue as a top level goalkeeper, and I am sure he will, these are moments he will have to survive," Hodgson said. "We can't deny that when you let goals in that you could have saved unfortunately it does affect your confidence. That's a fact of life, but I am expecting him to come here as full of desire and enthusiasm as he usually does."
England is second in its qualifying group, two points behind Montenegro with five games remaining.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), 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), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Ashley Young (Manchester United)