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EVERTON FC midfielder Leon Osman will not look out of place if he makes his long overdue England bow next week, says Phil Jagielka.
The 31-year-old midfielder stands on the verge of representing his country for the first time when the Three Lions face Sweden in a friendly on Wednesday, with the endorsement of national boss Roy Hodgson ringing in his ears.
Hodgson admitted he has admired the Blues veteran for some time before including him in the 23-man squad for the game in Stockholm.
And Osman’s Goodison – and now potentially England – team-mate Jagielka is thrilled at the recognition of a player who has been in top form for the Blues so far this term.
He said: “I think he has been under-appreciated. He’s definitely one that goes under the radar. He plays in a number of positions, but he’s been desperate to try and get this run in midfield because he is someone who is very good at turning on the ball, he can see a pass, he tackles, he’s not the biggest but he can head the ball, so he basically does everything.
“He has been overlooked. We have a laugh and a joke with Ossie. He mentioned earlier in the season that he would never give up on England, and the papers stitched him up a little bit and made out that he’d said he was desperate to play and that he deserved a place and things like that.
“Ossie would love to play for England, and I have got no doubts that if he does play for England he would not look out of place.”
Hodgson said the seeds of Osman’s debut inclusion go back to his spell in charge of Fulham, a job he quit to take over at Liverpool in 2010.
“He’s a player that I’ve admired since I came back to Fulham five years ago,” he said. “He’s always done extremely well whenever I’ve played Everton or watched Everton.
“Of course, he’s faced great competition in the position that he plays, but on this occasion we’ve got the opportunity and the space to bring Leon into the team.”
LEON OSMAN became the latest beneficiary of Roy Hodgson’s roving eye when his performances for Everton were rewarded with a first England call-up.
While Jack Wilshere’s inclusion in a senior squad for the first time in 17 months caught the eye, especially because it went against the wishes of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the promotion of Osman for next week’s friendly against Sweden revealed Hodgson’s willingness to consider all-comers.
Osman admitted as recently as September that, at the age of 31, his hopes of receiving England recognition were receding .
Yet the midfielder’s displays during Everton’s promising start to the season have caught Hodgson’s eye and the England coach said: “He’s a player that I’ve admired since I came back to Fulham five years ago.
“He has always done extremely well whenever I’ve played Everton or watched Everton. He’s faced great competition in the position that he plays, but on this occasion we’ve got the opportunity and the space to bring Leon into the team.
“It will be great to meet him and work with him for a couple of days and see how he fits in with what we’re trying to do at international level.”
Osman’s call-up was welcomed by his club manager David Moyes.
Moyes said: “That news went down with the players and staff as good as anyone that has gone before. It was a pleasure to tell everyone that Ossie had been called up for England. His form this season has been such that he really deserves this.
“His consistency during my time here has been exceptional. He will take the ball and he will want to help England play.
“His football intelligence is as good as anyone I have ever worked with. He understands what you want him to do and he always gets on with it to the best of his ability.
“I felt at times that he might miss out but his form and Everton’s form this season have helped him.”
Osman is the 45th different player Hodgson has selected during his reign and that number will rise to 46 if England receive international clearance to pick Arsenal’s Carl Jenkinson . Hodgson has been keen to include Jenkinson, who is eligible to play for Finland through his mother and has previously played for their Under-21 side.
“The reason I didn’t include Carl from the start is because we haven’t got clearance from FIFA but we do believe that they are going to grant that clearance within a day or two,” said Hodgson.
“So by next Wednesday, he will be clear to play. He wants to play for England and made that clear and we applied for permission to FIFA immediately after he left us before we set off for Poland.
“That was a month ago, but I didn’t want to put his name down until I’d got FIFA clearance that he’s available to play for us in my hand. If the clearance comes through, we will put him in the squad. ”
As expected Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, 17, was included and is in line to win his first cap next week in a game in which Anfield team-mate and England skipper Steven Gerrard will collect his 100th cap.
Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick both miss out, having started the World Cup qualifying draw with Poland.