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Jack Wilshere, Marcus Rashford Named in Provisional England Squad for Euro 2016

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16:  Roy Hodgson, Manager of England looks on from the stands during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on April 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, Newcastle United winger Andros Townsend and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford have been included in England's provisional squad for this summer's UEFA European Championship in France.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has also been included despite his recent injury problems. There was no place for Arsenal man Theo Walcott or Everton defender Phil Jagielka, though.

Manager Roy Hodgson's full selection was announced on Monday, with the official deadline for the the 23-man squad on May 31, per Sky News' Paul Kelso:

Paul Kelso @pkelso

Marcus Rashford included in 26-man squad for @England @UEFAEURO 2016 preparation matches. Only 23 will go to France https://t.co/sstIawG5ko

Henderson and Wilshere were both major doubts considering their respective recent long-term injuries, although both returned to action in the final stages of the Premier League season.

Here's what Hodgson had to say about the squad, per Sky Sports News HQ:

Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews

Roy Hodgson reveals Marcus Rashford COULD be going to France after naming his provisional squad. Live on SSN now... https://t.co/lGUw6YulnI

England's Euro 2016 campaign kicks off against Russia on June 11, ahead of further Group B matches against Wales on June 16 and Slovakia on June 20.

Read on for a closer look at the key players in Hodgson's squad as England aim to win a first major tournament in 50 years.

Goalkeepers

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 08:  Joe Hart of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Ethiad Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Joe Hart will undoubtedly be the No. 1 for England's first match against Russia, and he deserves it. The Manchester City man has had an excellent season, keeping 15 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, per Fox Sports.

His international experience will be vital after his appearances at both Euro 2012 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

However, should he get injured or have a dip in form during the tournament, Hodgson has an able deputy in Fraser Forster.

Indeed, so impressive has the 28-year-old been for Southampton since returning from a long-term injury in January that many would like to see him as the No. 1 option between the posts for England, such as Inside World Football's Matt Scott:

Matt Scott @Matt5cott

Lots asking what concerns me about Hart. It's that the back five is a team and they've conceded 38 goals in 36 games. I prefer Forster.

It is unlikely Hodgson will make such a major alteration, though, and Hart will surely be the starting goalkeeper for Euro 2016, but the fact Forster is good enough to threaten the 29-year-old's spot is indicative of a strong unit in the England squad.

Defenders

Chris Smalling has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of seasons and is arguably the best centre-back Hodgson can call upon.

He will likely be partnered by Gary Cahill initially in the middle of the back four, although the Chelsea man hardly enjoyed the best preparation for the France tournament in a tricky 2015-16 season.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 30:  John Stones of Everton and Callum Wilson of Bournemouth compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Goodison Park on April 30, 2016 in Liverpool, England.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Not only were the Blues poor at the back, but Cahill himself was not guaranteed a first-team spot, starting only 21 of Chelsea's 38 Premier League games, per WhoScored.com.

John Stones is a talented and exciting alternative, but he has been criticised over the past year for making errors on an alarmingly consistent basis, per the Telegraph's Ali Tweedale:

Ali Tweedale @alitweedale

John Stones has made as many errors leading to goals in 73 PL games as Titus Bramble made in his final 117 https://t.co/7edSL7OzqI

Here is what the Everton man had to say about his inclusion, per the Toffees' Twitter feed:

Hodgson has a number of in-form full-backs to call upon in the shape of Ryan Bertrand, Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, all of whom are capable of providing attacking impetus on the flanks.

Midfielders

Henderson and Wilshere were both injury doubts until recently, but Hodgson has kept faith with the pair despite their fitness worries.

Tottenham Hotspur's influence is likely to be significant after their excellent season in the Premier League, with Eric Dier and Dele Alli both expected to be starters in the midfield, per TalkSport's Stan Collymore:

Stan Collymore @StanCollymore

The team we think RH WILL pick v Russia. Hart Clyne Smalling Cahill Bertrand Dier Alli Wilshere Rooney Kane Lallana Remember this!!

That partnership could be crucial if England are to go far at Euro 2016, while Danny Drinkwater and James Milner would be able to provide further solidity in the middle of the park if needed. 

Wilshere and Henderson's lack of match fitness will be a concern for many looking at Hodgson's selection for the midfield, but there is genuine strength in the middle of the park for the Three Lions.

Here is how the Arsenal man reacted to the squad announcement:

Jack Wilshere @JackWilshere

Absolutely buzzing! I can't wait to meet up with the squad and start preparing for the euros. Thanks for all the messages. #England

Alli, 20, should be well refreshed for the tournament following his late-season suspension, and he will be eager to prove himself on the international stage. 

Townsend, although suffering relegation with Newcastle, actually enjoyed a brilliant end to the season. He posted the following on Twitter:

Andros Townsend @andros_townsend

Huge honour to be named in provisional @England squad for the euros.... Will give my all over next few weeks to try and make final squad!

Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling—one of few bright sparks for England at the 2014 World Cup—also has plenty to prove following an underwhelming debut season with Manchester City.

Forwards

After a Premier League season in which Kane and Jamie Vardy netted 25 and 24 goals respectively, per WhoScored, Hodgson has arguably his most difficult decision to make when choosing the forward for his starting XI.

Captain Wayne Rooney was the key goalscorer for England in the qualifiers, but he has had a less-than-prolific season with the Red Devils, highlighted by UEFA Euro 2016:

UEFA Nations League @UEFAEURO

Wayne Rooney has scored 14 goals for Manchester United in total this season. A starter for @England at #EURO2016? https://t.co/31tOYoz8In

He played many of United's last few games of the term in a deep-lying midfield role, a position Hodgson may well consider for him in France.

Kane is arguably undroppable considering he has had two consecutive prolific seasons in the Premier League, while Vardy may be used as an impact substitute, as his pace could prove a nightmare for tiring defenders.

It's a role Walcott has fulfilled for a while in this squad, although Hodgson has opted against including the Arsenal man. Here is how he reacted to his omission:

Theo Walcott @theowalcott

I am of course disappointed not to make the squad, but I have spoken with Roy and respect his decision

Theo Walcott @theowalcott

I wish Roy and all the team the best of luck for a successful Euro's.

Add Daniel Sturridge into the mix—who was prolific in the 2015-16 Premier League campaign despite consistent injury worries—and youngster Rashford, who burst onto the scene late in the term with the Red Devils, and England have an attacking force to be reckoned with this summer.

Arsenal's Danny Welbeck missed out after picking up a knee injury against Manchester City earlier in May, per BBC Sport.

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