• Stuart Pearce names squad for play-off against Serbia
• Jack Rodwell and Raheem Sterling among Under-21s
Roy Hodgson has taken a calculated risk ahead of England's next two World Cup qualifiers by leaving out several fringe players so they can take part in the Under-21s' European Championship play-offs against Serbia.
Hodgson has decided he can do without Jack Butland, now Joe Hart's first-choice replacement in the senior side, for England's match against San Marino at Wembley on Friday week, followed by a much more difficult assignment against Poland in Warsaw four days later.
The England manager has also concluded that it is not necessary to involve Steven Caulker or Raheem Sterling if they can be of greater use for Stuart Pearce's team in their two-legged play-off.
Caulker's promising form for Tottenham Hotspur had led to him being tipped as the immediate beneficiary after John Terry's announcement that he is retiring from international football.
Instead, Hodgson has decided against calling up the 20-year-old despite already being short in defence because of injuries to Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Martin Kelly, leaving England with only three centre-halves – Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill – unless there is a surprise inclusion when the squad is announced on Thursday.
Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross has been tipped as another possible contender, along with Steven Taylor of Newcastle United, at a time when Rio Ferdinand's hopes of a recall seem faint in the extreme.
Sterling was brought into the senior squad ahead of the 1-1 draw with Ukraine last month to reward him for his emergence this season at Liverpool, and Hodgson was keen initially to give him more experience of the senior set-up over the next couple of weeks.
Pearce, however, has made a strong case that it would be better for Sterling to drop down a level and Hodgson has eventually decided that, long-term, there would be more benefits for the 17-year-old if he can help the Under-21s reach a major tournament.
"For Raheem to have an insight into the senior team is fantastic," Pearce said. "He's been in our development squads and has done extremely well for Liverpool, and credit to Brendan [Rodgers] who has given him his chance. We are pleased to have him.
"Roy and I have had a really good conversation in relation to my squad … and he is more than aware of the Under-21s' key players."
Jack Rodwell, of Manchester City, is another who could have provided cover as a centre-back for Hodgson but has been included in Pearce's 26-man squad, while Nick Powell of Manchester United and Andros Townsend of Tottenham get their first call-ups.
However, Hodgson and Pearce have not ruled out players being upgraded to the senior squad if there are any injuries with a full weekend of Premier League fixtures still to come before the San Marino match.
Ben Amos (Manchester United), Jack Butland (Birmingham), Declan Rudd (Norwich), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough); Ryan Bennett (Norwich), Steven Caulker (Tottenham), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Craig Dawson (West Brom), Tom Lees (Leeds), Jack Rodwell (Manchester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Adam Smith (Tottenham), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool); Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Tom Ince (Blackpool), Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Jason Lowe (Blackburn), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Nick Powell (Manchester United), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace); Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Connor Wickham (Sunderland).