Heskey called up to England squad

September 2, 2007

Emile Heskey has been given a shock recall to the England squad for the Euro 2008 qualification double-header with Israel and Russia.

The Wigan striker won the last of his 43 caps against France at Euro 2004 and it was thought his international days were behind him.

However, England manager Steve McClaren saw the 29-year-old in action for the Latics in their defeat at Newcastle yesterday and was impressed enough to make contact with Wigan on Sunday morning and request his release.

With his squad woefully short of goalscoring options, especially as Peter Crouch is suspended for Saturday's encounter with Israel at Wembley, McClaren at least knows Heskey has scored five times at international level, something none of his striking rivals, with the exception of Michael Owen, can claim.

The former Liverpool player has also scored in the league this season, something only Owen has managed out of McClaren's five-strong strike-force.

With no withdrawals to compensate for Heskey's inclusion there must be a real possibility the Owen-Heskey strike partnership will be revived after a three-year break.

Heskey's inclusion, which was only finalised after McClaren had given media interviews on Sunday morning, is the fourth time the England coach has dug into the Three Lions' past to bolster his squad.

Former skipper David Beckham was recalled in June, while Portsmouth duo David James and Sol Campbell were among the 26-man squad McClaren originally named for the crucial encounters to come over the next 10 days.

Heskey was called into Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad for games against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan in March 2005 but did not play.

There must be more of a chance of that happening this time.

'Emile is a player with a lot of international experience and has played many times with Michael Owen in the past,' McClaren said.

'He has been in good form for Wigan this season. He played very well against Sunderland recently and I saw him play well against Newcastle yesterday.

'While he has been out of the squad for a few years, I have spoken with Chris Hutchings who has been hugely impressed with him and I think he deserves to be recalled. We need his experience at this time.'

Hutchings hailed Heskey as 'colossal' and believes his recall is fully merited.

'This is not just tremendous personal news for Emile, but it's also fantastic for Wigan as a whole,' said Hutchings.

'He is a brilliant professional, one of the best I've worked with.

'He is colossal and I have no doubt he will serve England well if Steve McClaren picks him for either of the games.

'I think it's a thoroughly deserved call-up because he has been playing out of his skin. His team-mates will be as chuffed as I am.'