England news

Vermaelen surprised by Ox inclusion

Belgian is convinced teenager is good enough for the task

ESPN staff

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has slotted in well with England© PA

Thomas Vermaelen has admitted he was a little surprised to see England include his Arsenal team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in their European Championship squad.

Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Arsenal from Southampton last summer, but he was viewed as a player for the future rather than an immediate first-team recruit. He had a baptism of fire, making his debut in the 8-2 loss to Manchester United, but steadily found his feet and produced some mature displays in the second half of the season.

England boss Roy Hodgson saw enough to hand him a place in his final 23 and he has already been tipped as a wildcard by his Gunners team-mate Bacary Sagna.

Belgium defender Vermaelen, who will likely come up against Oxlade-Chamberlain in England’s final warm-up game this weekend, believes the teenager will not disgrace himself in Poland and Ukraine.

“I was a little bit surprised, but on the other hand he is a great player and deserves to be there,” Vermaelen told Sky Sports News. “He did not play all the games for us at Arsenal, but he is a great player for us.

“It will be a good experience for him. When he plays he will play with confidence and without any doubt in his mind so I think he will be fine. I hope he gets some playing time.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s friendly, Vermaelen said: “I am playing against two team-mates (Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott) so that makes it a bit more special.”


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