Stewart Downing has been called up to Fabio Capello’s England squad to face Montenegro on Tuesday. The Villa winger comes in as a like for like replacement for the injured Aaron Lennon of Tottenham. The Spurs wide-man joins Everton’s Phil Jagielka on the treatment table ahead of England’s crucial home tie, a match most sport betting sites have tipped as a comfortable win for England.
Lennon injured his back whilst training on international duty and after tests on Saturday has been forced to withdraw from the 23 man squad. Lennon will return to recuperate at White Hart Lane meaning that, 26-year-old Downing makes his way back into the international fold after a lengthy spell out.
Downing joined Villa from Middlesbrough in July of last year and was kept out until December with injury. Since then the left winger hasn’t been able to force his way back into the England reckoning under Capello after a difficult first season at Villa Park. Downing has not been called up for his country since March and you have to go back a full 18 months for his last appearance for the Three Lions against Slovakia.
Stewart has started this season significantly better than he ended the last and has begun every Premier League game so far for the club. In those 7 turn outs he has netted 3 times, the most impressive of which came from a terrific diving header to give Villa the lead at Stoke, a match they went on to lose 2-1.
Downing joins team-mates Stephen Warnock and Ashley Young in the international set-up and he may well be vying for a place with the latter. If Downing were to make an appearance it would become his 24th for his country though he is yet to score in the white of England. More likely to start the game is Downing’s understudy at Middlesbrough, Adam Johnson, who scored in both of England’s previous Euro 2012 qualifying matches so far.
Is Downing international quality and will he continue his decent form to earn a call-up next time out? Has his young compatriot, Marc Albrighton been the brighter spark for Villa this term and would he merit a senior call-up, a man who incidentally still isn’t starting for the Under-21’s. Opinions aside this recall is still a move that hardly matches Capello’s supposed trust in youth for the future and England should not underestimate their opponents.
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