Wilfried Zaha gets surprise England call-up


Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has won his first England call-up after the withdrawal of five players from the squad before the friendly game against Sweden. The 20-year-old is the first Championship outfield player to be called up by the England boss since Jay Bothroyd in 2010. Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson and Tottenham's Tom Huddlestone will also be part of the squad for Wednesday's friendly as Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Jonjo Shelvey, Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon have all been ruled out. Zaha made his Palace debut in March 2010 and has played for England at under-19 and under-21 levels.

His amazing form this season has helped Palace to the top of the Championship table after 16 games and attracted interest from various Premier League clubs. "Have I seen anybody like him? No, not in my whole career I haven't," Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway said. "He does it both ways, with his left and with his right foot. He lures you in and teases you, and before you know it he's done something. It's almost like when I was growing up, with the Harlem Globetrotters. He can do it all with the ball at his feet, but he also has a modern-day athleticism that is second to none."

Crystal Palace co-chairman Stephen Browett also congratulated Zaha on his call-up. "It's a great achievement for Wilfried, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday," he said. "He's been at Palace since the age of 12 and we're all very proud of him. A shining advertisement for our wonderful academy." Zaha was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and moved to London with his family when he was just four years old.

Reports claim that his England call-up followed two hours of negotiations between the player's representatives and the Football Association. Zaha was reportedly torn after taking a call from Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba on Wednesday urging him to play for the country of his birth in the Africa Cup of Nations in January. After his place in the England squad was confirmed, Zaha said on Twitter: "Wow everything's happening so fast." Zaha could still represent Ivory Coast even if plays against Sweden in Wednesday's friendly and will only be tied to England once he has appeared in a competitive international fixture.

Here are the odds from Bet365 for Wednesday's match:

Sweden to win - 8/5
Draw - 9/4
England to win - 17/10

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