England manager Roy Hodgson has named uncapped midfielder Danny Drinkwater in his 24-man squad for the forthcoming friendly double-header against Germany and the Netherlands. The former Manchester United academy graduate has been an influential figure during Leicester City's shock rise to the Premier League summit this season, making 28 top-flight appearances and forming an excellent partnership with summer signing N'Golo Kante that has helped Claudio Ranieri's side to build a five-point buffer with just eight matches remaining.
"Danny Drinkwater is having a fantastic season in a team that is having a fantastic season," Hodgson said of his selection as quoted by the Football Association (FA). "There are players outside this squad who could easily have been included. We are looking at a large group. The door is open."
Another player hoping to win his first international cap is Danny Rose. The Tottenham Hotspur left-back was previously a regular for the U21s but is yet to make his senior debut, having been forced to pull out of the squad for matches against Lithuania and Italy in 2015 due to hip and hamstring injuries.
Elsewhere, fit-again Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster is rewarded for his strong form by replacing Tom Heaton. Kieran Gibbs and injured Manchester United defender Phil Jones drop out, while Eric Dier retains his place and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson returns.
Jonjo Shelvey and Michael Carrick do not feature this time around, neither does Fabian Delph as the Manchester City midfielder continues to recover from an achilles tendon problem. There is also no place for West Ham's Mark Noble.
Captain Wayne Rooney was always certain to miss out on selection due to the knee ligament damage that has seen him sidelined since mid-February. Daniel Sturridge is back in the fold, as are Arsenal duo Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck.
"It's always nice to announce a squad when you've got some riches in front of you," Hodgson said of his striking options. "But we need to produce on the pitch. You need a very strong squad and a versatility for a tournament. We've got six very good and different strikers including Wayne Rooney."
England travel to the Olympiastadion in Berlin to face reigning world champions Germany on Saturday 26 March before hosting the Netherlands, who have not qualified for the European Championships this summer, at Wembley three days later. Turkey, Australia and Portugal will provide the final opposition before their Euro 2016 opener against Russia in Marseille. Hodgson is set to name his travelling party for the tournament on 12 May.
England's 24-man squad for friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton)
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)