• Raheem Sterling called up for final qualifier against Poland
• Rooney praises Roy Hodgson's 'exciting' youngsters
Roy Hodgson, emboldened by the success of his young strikeforce against Montenegro, has brought Raheem Sterling into his squad for England's crucial game against Poland on Tuesday.
The Liverpool player seems unlikely to start given the effectiveness of the four forwards Hodgson used in Friday's 4-1 victory at Wembley, but it is another indication the manager is abandoning his reputation for caution. He turned to the 18-year-old after losing the Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley to injury and the full-back Kyle Walker to suspension.
The England manager insisted the job was still only half done after the Montenegro game, with another win necessary at Wembley, but Wayne Rooney believes there is confidence running through the squad. "Credit to the manager, he picked a really young, attacking team," Rooney said. "There were four of us up front, with Steve and Frank behind, and we all attacked. Andros Townsend made a great debut, especially in such a pressure game. To come in for your first start, perform like that and score such an important goal was great for him and the team, and exciting for the future.
"We've got some very exciting young players in the squad. There's been a lot of talk about not enough good young English players coming through, but we've got six, seven, eight at the moment. Not just Andros, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck, who played, but Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in reserve. They are all talented individuals, and we are very happy with the squad we've got."
The normally cautious Hodgson is unused to being called bold or adventurous, but accepted the compliment in characteristically phlegmatic manner. "I've been coaching for 38 years, I've been labelled this and that during that time and I can probably stand it for a couple more years," he said.
"People can say what they want. What we try and do is work hard, prepare well and be organised when we get on to the field, and that is exactly what we will be looking to do against Poland. Nine games without defeat and 29 goals scored is a good record, and Tuesday night will be a big day for me because if we do avoid defeat – and I hope we win – it will be 40 matches in qualifiers with just four defeats, and that's not too bad when you think that some of those games were with Switzerland and Finland."
Hodgson has been accused of selecting an outright attacking lineup as a last resort, because after so many draws only a win would have sufficed against Montenegro, though he denies this is the case. "I did use a lot of attacking options against Montenegro, but I might have done before had the players been available," he explained. "Rooney has missed games through injury, so have Sturridge and Wilshere, and you can't pick people who aren't there. I suppose Townsend was a little bit bold, because he wasn't necessarily seen as England material in the way that the others were.
"We knew we needed to open doors, and we knew Andros has that capacity, the only question was whether he could do it on the night and he answered that. I have been following his progress right through the last year, when he was on loan at QPR through to his return to Tottenham where he replicated that promise, so I thought he could come in and help us.
"As a football coach you are never quite certain how things will go on the night, especially if you are making a debut in front of eighty-odd thousand people, but Andros was excellent. I'm just delighted he did so well for us, because it can't have been easy, but he played like a veteran and scored a wonder goal."
Frank Lampard was impressed with the debutant's confidence, and happy to see a young player unafraid to take on opponents. "Andros was brilliant all night, he ran at people from the start," Lampard said. "I said to him in the dressing room 'carry on doing what you are doing at Tottenham' because it is a step up here but that was one of the best debuts you will see. In international football, you need pace and you need your players up top to create things out of nothing and run at people. Maybe it is something we did not have so much of a couple of years ago, but all of a sudden we have a few options so this is exciting. Brazil is one of the homes of football.
"We believe we are the home of football but if you look at history, the flamboyance, Brazil has it. We played there in the summer and you could feel the magic around the place. If you are playing for your country you want to be there."