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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 01:03 GMT
Rooney handed England chance
Everton star Wayne Rooney
Rooney is set to make history
Sven-Goran Eriksson has revealed that he intends to hand Everton's Wayne Rooney his international debut against Australia on Wednesday.

The England coach is planning to field the youngest ever England side in the second half of the friendly at Upton Park.

Eriksson will start with his strongest possible line-up, but has promised leading clubs that he will use none of their players for more than 45 minutes.

In the second half, he will turn to an Under-25 side, starring not only 17-year-old Rooney but also Jermaine Jenas, Sean Davis, BBC Sport columnist James Beattie and Paul Robinson.

"Wayne's only 17 but Pele was 17 when he won the World Cup in 1958 in Sweden and he scored twice in the final," said Eriksson.

Sven's new faces
Paul Robinson
Paul Konchesky
Matthew Upson
Jermaine Jenas
Sean Davis
Scott Parker
Wayne Rooney
James Beattie

"Everyone that I've talked to says he's a special talent, so why not look at him in a friendly game.

"I'm not afraid of the age of 17. It's more important to see whether he's ready and whether he's good enough. My hunch is that he is."

Rooney was so staggered by his selection that he mistook the call-up for a place in the Under-21 squad.

Everton manager David Moyes told him the good news and Rooney admitted: "When the gaffer told me I was in the squad I asked when the Under-21s had to report.

"He just laughed, shook his head and said 'no, the full squad'.

"I couldn't believe it. To have the chance to be around senior internationals is going to be a great experience and I can't wait."

Eriksson's "vision of the future", also saw call-ups for Francis Jeffers and Matthew Upson as well as Charlton duo Scott Parker and Paul Konchesky.

If I can have the best players for 45 minutes, that's good enough for me

Sven-Goran Eriksson

The emphasis on youth means Gareth Southgate, Trevor Sinclair, Nicky Butt and Robbie Fowler are all left out, Emile Heskey is injured while David Seaman is rested and Steven Gerrard is ineligible.

The call-ups for Upson and Jeffers are a major surprise as neither have been Arsenal regulars this season, forcing Upson to move to St Andrews.

If, as seems certain, Rooney plays he will, at the age of 17 years and 111 days, beat the previous record of Clapham Rovers' James Prinsep, who was 17 years old and 253 days old when he played against Scotland in 1879.

The England coach has promised that he will keep faith with any youngster who makes his mark at Upton Park, just as he has done previously with Darius Vassell and Ashley Cole.


England 27-man squad to face Australia :

Goalkeepers: David James (West Ham), Paul Robinson (Leeds), Richard Wright (Everton);
Defenders: Gary Neville (Man Utd), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), Danny Mills (Leeds), Paul Konchesky (Charlton), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), Ledley King (Tottenham), Wes Brown (Man Utd), Matthew Upson (Birmingham);
Midfielders: David Beckham (Man Utd), Paul Scholes (Man Utd), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Kieron Dyer (Newcastle), Jermaine Jenas (Newcastle), Sean Davis (Fulham), Scott Parker (Charlton), Danny Murphy (Liverpool), Joe Cole (West Ham);
Forwards: Michael Owen (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Everton), James Beattie (Southampton), Darius Vassell (Aston Villa), Francis Jeffers (Arsenal).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson
"Everybody agrees he is something special"
Southampton's James Beattie
"It's like winning the lottery"

Wayne Rooney
Growing up in football's fast lane
England v Australia latest

England 1-3 Australia

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