LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph was handed a surprise recall to the England squad on Thursday ahead of the Premier League leaders’ big weekend clash at champions Chelsea.
England manager Gareth Southgate, naming a 26-man squad for World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania, hailed the 27-year-old’s perseverance and determination at club level this season.
“We think he’s a really good player,” he told reporters.”He was a very important player for a period with Roy (Hodgson) and he’s been unfortunate with injuries.
“He’s obviously at a club where chances have been a little bit limited but he’s dug in, he’s forced his way into their side and he’s playing well.
“He obviously hasn’t had as many games as we would like, but we’ve got a situation in midfield where we need to have more competition for places and more alternatives and we think he’s a player that can provide that.”
Delph has not featured for England under Southgate’s management, making his last appearance and ninth cap for the national team under Hodgson against Spain in November 2015.
At City, who play at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, he has been prominent in midweek matches and put in a strong performance on the left side of defence in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
City manager Pep Guardiola preferred Delph to Danilo in that match, and also used him as a left back in the Carabao (League) Cup third round win over West Bromwich Albion.
The player, who was linked with a move away from the club over the summer, has been handed the new role after French international Benjamin Mendy suffered a knee injury.
“All the players know the system of how the manager wants us to play. I have played left back in training, and at Aston Villa, and as a young guy coming through at Leeds,” Delph told the Manchester Evening News this week.
“I’m not a left back but I feel can do a job there..”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis