England manager Roy Hodgson has revealed he has long admired Leon Osman after naming him in his squad to face Sweden next week.
Everton midfielder Osman was named in the senior squad for the first time in his career on Thursday after a consistent start to the season.
Hodgson is pleased he has been able to name the 31-year-old as one of his 23 players for the match in Stockholm, and said he has watched the midfielder for some time.
“He’s a player that I’ve admired since I came back to Fulham five years ago. He’s always done extremely well whenever I’ve played Everton or watched Everton,” Hodgson told the FA’s official website.
“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.”
Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling has also earned a first call-up to the senior squad after some fine displays for the Reds, and Hodgson was keen to shrug off suggestions the 17-year-old is in the team to stop Jamaica from trying to get the youngster to represent them.
“He’s in the squad on merit and because I think he’s done extremely well for Liverpool,” Hodgson said.
“He burst onto the scene at the start of the season and has been ever-present in the Liverpool team in recent games and has played a very exciting part.
“It has nothing to do with him being courted by anybody else. My views on that subject are clear, as far as I’m concerned a player should have the right to choose who he wants to play for.
“But it would seem to me, having played at every level for England so far, it must be Raheem’s hope that he’s going to represent his country at national team level and he’s on the threshold of doing that at the moment.
“And he’s doing it because he’s there on merit as one of the better players that we have in England at this time.”