LEON Osman will not look out of place if he makes his long overdue England bow next week, says Phil Jagielka.
The 31-year-old midfielder stands on the verge of representing his country for the first time when the Three Lions face Sweden in a friendly on Wednesday, with the endorsement of national boss Roy Hodgson ringing in his ears.
Hodgson admitted he has admired the Blues veteran for some time before including him in the 23-man squad for the game in Stockholm.
And Osman’s Goodison – and now potentially England – team-mate Jagielka is thrilled at the recognition of a player who has been in top form for the Blues so far this term.
He said: “I think he has been under-appreciated. He’s definitely one that goes under the radar. He plays in a number of positions, but he’s been desperate to try and get this run in midfield because he is someone who is very good at turning on the ball, he can see a pass, he tackles, he’s not the biggest but he can head the ball, so he basically does everything.
“He has been overlooked. We have a laugh and a joke with Ossie. He mentioned earlier in the season that he would never give up on England, and the papers stitched him up a little bit and made out that he’d said he was desperate to play and that he deserved a place and things like that.
“Ossie would love to play for England, and I have got no doubts that if he does play for England he would not look out of place.”
Hodgson said the seeds of Osman’s debut inclusion go back to his spell in charge of Fulham, a job he quit to take over at Liverpool in 2010.
“He’s a player that I’ve admired since I came back to Fulham five years ago,” he said. “He’s always done extremely well whenever I’ve played Everton or watched Everton.
“Of course, he’s faced great competition in the position that he plays, but on this occasion we’ve got the opportunity and the space to bring Leon into the team.”
Steven Pienaar believes Osman’s call-up also reflects well on fourth-placed Everton’s form this season.
He said: “It’s been long coming. He’s been playing really well. He deserves his call-up and has been fantastic this season.
“It’s good news for a player who has been working hard and it shows the manager is doing a good job at the club. If a player gets selected for the national team it’s always a plus.
“He is an easy going guy so I don’t think he’ll have any problems fitting in with his mentality and the way he likes to play.”
As expected, the Three Lions will be skippered by Steven Gerrard, who will become only the sixth player in England history to reach 100 caps.
The other member of the 99-cap club, Ashley Cole, is amongst those who miss out through injury, with Chelsea team-mate Jack Rodwell and Manchester City trio Jack Rodwell, Joleon Lescott and James Milner also sidelined.
With Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart amongst the other senior players involved, it cannot be described as an experimental squad.
There are some youngsters though, including Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, whom Hodgson came across as a 15-year-old during his ill-fated stint at Anfield.
Sterling was drafted into the Three Lions squad for the World Cup qualifier with Ukraine in September.
However, that move was an emergency, 24 hours before the game.
This time Hodgson has made it clear he is in on merit, and not to ward off apparent interest from Jamaica.
“He’s done extremely well for Liverpool,” said Hodgson. “He burst onto the scene at the start of the season.
“It has nothing to do with him being courted by anybody else. My views on that subject are clear, as far as I’m concerned a player should have the right to choose who he wants to play for.
“But it would seem to me, having played at every level for England so far, it must be Raheem’s hope that he’s going to represent his country at national team level and he’s on the threshold of doing that.”
Sterling will be joined by Liverpool team-mate Jonjo Shelvey, who made his debut in the win over San Marino last month.
Celtic’s Fraser Forster will be involved following his stellar performance in that sensational Champions League win over Barcelona at Parkhead.