Theo Walcott was omitted from England’s final 23-man World Cup squad Tuesday as England coach Fabio Capello went for the more experienced Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips ahead of a player who has struggled this season.
Defensive midfielder Gareth Barry was included in the party that heads to South Africa on Wednesday despite an ankle injury that could still rule him out of England’s opening group match against the United States on June 12.
The seven players dropped following a 30-man training camp were Walcott, Darren Bent, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, Michael Dawson and Leighton Baines.
“I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr. Capello’s decision,” Walcott said in a statement on Arsenal’s website. “I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament.”
Bent’s omission means that Emile Heskey will go to a second World Cup despite starting fewer than half of Aston Villa’s Premier League matches this season.
Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe are the other strikers on a squad featuring three goalkeepers, eight defenders and eight midfielders.
England World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Manchester City).
Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa).
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), James Milner (Aston Villa), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Gareth Barry (Manchester City).
Strikers: Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham).