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Last Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
England call up defender Lescott
Everton defender Joleon Lescott
Lescott has played for England Under-21's and England B

England v Israel
Wembley Stadium
Saturday, 8 September
Kick-off: 1700 BST
Live coverage on BBC One, BBC Radio 5live & the BBC Sport website

Everton defender Joleon Lescott has been called up to England's squad for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel on Saturday and Russia four days later.

England boss Steve McClaren made the decision after Portsmouth's Sol Campbell pulled out through injury.

And Chelsea's Frank Lampard is almost certain to miss England's games, while McClaren called up Wigan striker Emile Heskey into his squad on Sunday.

McClaren remains confident Liverpool's Steven Gerrard will be fit.

Birmingham-born Lescott has been key to Everton's good start to the new Premier League season.

And McClaren told the FA website: "Joleon has been looking very solid for Everton this season, and has also scored a couple of goals, too.

"He is big and strong and is a threat at set-pieces as well, but as a defender he makes life very difficult for strikers.

"His versatility also means he is a good option as he can play in the middle of the defence or at full-back.

"He came on as a sub for the 'B' team at Burnley in May and looked assured and I think he's very capable of making the step up to the full team."

One of the things we're looking at is what partnership and system will get best out of Michael Owen

Steve McClaren

Earlier McClaren had said of injury-worry Lampard: "Our medical people are liaising with Chelsea and we'll assess it on Monday - but it is looking very doubtful."

However, the England coach is more optimistic regarding Gerrard, who is suffering from a hairline fracture of the toe and has not played in Liverpool's last three games.

McClaren said: "I spoke to Stevie and I am liaising with Liverpool," he added. "We're not going to take any risks but he wants to play and we want him to play.

"We'll assess it in the week but I am fully expecting he'll be available for the two games."

However, Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez warned McClaren to only play Gerrard if he is fully fit.

"We have not taken any risks with Steven at Liverpool and I would not expect England to take any risks with him," said the Spaniard.

"We do not want Steven to play for England with any painkilling injections. We did that against Chelsea and it took four to five days for him to recover to be able to train again."

A scan revealed that Lampard had a tear in his left thigh, while McClaren's plans had already been hit by injuries to David Beckham and Kieron Dyer.

The likely absence of Lampard, who partnered Michael Carrick in the friendly against Germany last month, has seen him have to change his midfield plans once again.


He said: "It's a big blow to lose your best players. Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and now David Beckham. It's a big loss to us but other players have an opportunity now.

"I started last week and had a certain team in mind. We had another way of playing but losing Frank Lampard changes the emphasis on that."

Beckham will be sidelined for six weeks with a knee ligament injury but McClaren said he still has a part to play in helping their stuttering Euro 2008 campaign.

He said: "On a personal level David has to get fit and playing again. We've still got important games ahead so he can help us before the last game.

"He has to be fit, playing and performing to a level where he can play for England."

McClaren hinted that he could partner Chelsea winger Joe Cole with Michael Owen up front for the Israel game, with Rooney injured and Peter Crouch suspended.

"One of the things we're looking at is what partnership and system will get best out of Michael Owen," he said about the Newcastle forward, who scored their winner against Wigan on Saturday.

"We're looking at different options but unfortunately we are missing Crouch for this game."

McClaren will also be aware of how well Owen has teamed up with Heskey in the past for Liverpool and England.

In 118 games together for the Reds, Owen scored 67 goals and Heskey managed 26, while in 30 matches for their country, Owen found the net 14 times and Heskey a further four.

Wigan boss Chris Hutchings has no dout Heskey can be effective against Israel and Russia, telling BBC Radio 5live: "People in the game know what a good job Emile does and I have got great faith and belief in him.

"With 40-odd caps for England, Emile has plenty of experience which will help in these two games. It is a great opportunity for him to get back in the fold and prove his worth again.

If he and Michael are paired together up front then they have a good understanding of one anothers' game from their days at Liverpool.

"Michael has said before that of all the strikers he has played with then he and Emile has been one of the best combinations."

Israel squad for Euro 2008 qualifier against England on 8 September at Wembley:

Aouate, Davidovitch, Strauber, Ben Haim, Benado, Gershon, Ziv, Sprungin, Saban, Strul, Antebi, Benayoun, Badier, Alberman, Tal, Zandberg, Yamuz, Itzhaki, Golan, Balili, Collauti, Barda, Katan.

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