LONDON, March 19- Tottenham Hotspur’s breakthrough star Harry Kane was on Thursday awarded his first England call-up for the forthcoming 2016 European Championship qualifier against Lithuania and friendly against Italy.
A graduate of the Tottenham academy, 21-year-old Kane has scored 26 goals in 42 appearances this season, making him an obvious candidate for a place in England manager Roy Hodgson’s squad for the double-header.
“I think the whole country is excited,” Hodgson told a press conference at Wembley when asked about Kane’s inclusion.
“His rise has been fantastic since he broke into the Tottenham team and he’s done so well. It would have been much more of a surprise if he hadn’t been selected.
“We know him, we know about him, and what he can do on a football field is clear for all to see because he’s been doing it week in, week out for Tottenham. He deserves his chance and we’re happy he’s with us.”
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick returned to the 24-man squad, along with Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph and Spurs right-back Kyle Walker, but there were no first call-ups for Burnley striker Danny Ings or Queens Park Rangers forward Charlie Austin.
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, made his return after missing England’s last five matches through injury.
“I think Daniel is getting better and better,” Hodgson said.
“When you come into the team again after a very long absence it takes a while to get all your faculties back working as they should.
“But I thought in the last game in which I watched him play, on Monday against Swansea, there were very good signs that his touch was there and his sharpness is coming back.
“He has another game between now and the England matches to further improve his fitness, when Liverpool play Manchester United (on Sunday).”
England are currently top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group E after winning their first four matches, six points clear of Slovenia, Switzerland and Lithuania.
They welcome Lithuania to Wembley on March 27 before tackling Italy at Juventus Stadium in Turin four days later.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling (all Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana (both Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (capt, Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)