England football captain Steven Gerrard. Photo Reuters
England captain Steven Gerrard has been passed fit for
Wednesday's friendly against Sweden after a scan on his knee
and is set to become the sixth Englishman to win 100 caps.
Gerrard took a knock during Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Chelsea
at Stamford Bridge on Sunday but the English Football
Association said the midfielder would travel.
"Steven Gerrard has been cleared to travel with the England
squad to Sweden having undergone a precautionary scan on
Monday afternoon," the FA said on their website.
The news will come as a relief to manager Roy Hodgson, whose
squad has been depleted by the withdrawals of five players
including Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott.
Gerrard's 17-year-old Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling
could win his first cap, as could Everton's Leon Osman, 31.
Osman, who played for England as a schoolboy, was a surprise
inclusion in the squad, but told reporters while he was
looking forward to winning his first cap he was delighted his
old rival Gerrard was about to join the century club.
"It's fantastic, there's only a select band that has managed
to do it and he certainly deserves to be in that crew. He is
a fantastic player and leader of men.
"I think we first played against each other when we were
about 12 or 13 years of age on Merseyside and to now see him
get his 100th cap is fantastic, but not surprising."
The only other men to play 100 times for England are Peter
Shilton (125), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore (108), Bobby
Charlton (106) and Billy Wright (105).
England ended a 43-year jinx, one of the longest in
international soccer, when they beat Sweden 1-0 in a friendly
at Wembley a year ago before following that up with a
thrilling 3-2 win at Euro 2012.
Sweden though are often a hard nut to crack as Germany found
a month ago when Erik Hamren's team came back from 4-0 down
to draw 4-4 in a World Cup qualifier in Berlin.
Seemingly dead and buried, Sweden replied with goals from
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mikael Lustig, Johan Elmander and Rasmus
Elm in stoppage time to force an incredible draw.
QUALITY, ATTITUDE, FUTURE
With PSV Eindhoven forward Ola Toivonen injured, Hamren has
called up Malmo duo Pontus Jansson and Jiloan Hamad to give
the Swedish squad a youthful look.
"I see quality, I see attitude, I see the future," Hamren
told a media briefing in Stockholm as he announced his squad,
adding that his side lacked experience.
"It's a bit messy here at the moment. We have a few injuries
and those that play in Europe aren't getting much playing
For all the tussles between England and Sweden over the
years, few nations share such mutual respect.
England manager Hodgson is still held in high esteem in
Sweden where he had spells coaching Halmstad, Oddevold,
Orebro and most successfully Malmo where a section of the
ground is still known as "Roy's corner".
With fellow Englishman Bob Houghton they helped transform the
Swedish game in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s,
ushering in a period of unprecedented success for Swedish
With almost blanket coverage of England's Premier League on
Swedish television, supporters travel in their droves to
English cities to watch Premier League clubs in action.
With so many Swedes playing in England in recent years, the
games almost have a derby feel to them.
Apart from a penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the Euros,
Hodgson is unbeaten in his opening 11 matches with England
and, like Hamren, is also developing his side with an eye on
the World Cup in under two years time.
Calling in some young inexperienced players like Raheem and
20-year-old Wilfried Zaha of Championship leaders Crystal
Palace proves he is prepared to give youth their chance,
making for what could be a highly entertaining match.