Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Sol Campbell returned to the England fold as coach Sven-Göran Eriksson named his squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Azerbaijan.
Central defender Ferdinand was recalled for the first time since it was revealed 12 months ago that he had failed to attend a drugs test. Ferdinand, who recently returned to the Manchester United FC team following an eight-month suspension, was joined in the squad by club-mate Rooney, who last featured in the UEFA EURO 2004™ quarter-final defeat by Portugal.
Rooney, who suffered a broken foot in that game, scored a hat-trick on his United debut in the 6-2 UEFA Champions League defeat of Fenerbahçe SK on Tuesday and is expected to start against Wales on Saturday. "It would be difficult to keep him out," said Eriksson. "I saw him on Tuesday and he was fantastic." Campbell is expected to continue the partnership with Ferdinand that was interrupted by the United defender's ban, although John Terry and Ledley King have impressed in their absence.
Real Madrid CF striker Michael Owen was taken off as a precaution early in the second half of the 1-0 loss to RC Deportivo La Coruña tonight after complaining at the break about a "slight muscle problem" according to Real Madrid coach Mariano García Remón. However, the strain is not serious and Owen will be vying with Tottenham Hotspur FC's Jermain Defoe to partner Rooney in attack.
Liverpool FC's Steven Gerrard misses the weekend match at Old Trafford and the trip to Azerbaijan the following Wednesday. Chelsea FC left-back Wayne Bridge is included despite nursing a calf injury.
James (Manchester City FC), Robinson (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Green (Norwich City FC), Terry (Chelsea FC), Ferdinand (Manchester United FC), King (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Campbell (Arsenal FC), A Cole (Arsenal FC), G Neville (Manchester United FC), P Neville (Manchester United FC), Bridge (Chelsea FC), Carragher (Liverpool FC), Butt (Newcastle United FC), Hargreaves (FC Bayern München), J Cole (Chelsea FC), Lampard (Chelsea FC), Jenas (Newcastle United FC), Beckham (Real Madrid CF), Wright-Phillips (Manchester City FC), Rooney (Manchester United FC), Smith (Manchester United FC), Owen (Real Madrid CF), Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Vassell (Aston Villa FC).
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