WATFORD, United Kingdom: Liverpool midfielder James Milner will captain England for the first time in Tuesday’s home friendly with the Netherlands, the Football Association announced on Monday.
The 30-year-old, capped 57 times, takes over from Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill, who stood in for injured regular skipper Wayne Rooney in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over world champions Germany in Berlin.
With Cahill dropping to the bench for the game against Holland — the last England fixture before manager Roy Hodgson names his squad for Euro 2016 on May 12 — Milner has inherited the captain’s armband.
“It’s great he has the opportunity to play tomorrow and to do it as captain of his country,” Hodgson told reporters while sitting next to Milner during a press conference at England’s team hotel in Watford, north of London.
“There’s no doubt that he’s versatile. We were speaking the other day and James gave me a long list of positions he’s played.
“There’s not many he’s not played. We’ve always known James is a very, very good midfield player.”
Asked what it meant to him, Milner replied: “Everything. Growing up, you’re desperate to put on that England shirt. You’re scoring goals for England in your back garden.
“To get the chance to lead your country out is a massive honour and something you’ll never forget.”
Hodgson also revealed that Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will start against the Dutch, having missed the whole of England’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign due to a succession of injuries.
“Daniel Sturridge will come into the team,” he said. “We’re pleased to welcome him back after his long lay-off.”
Hodgson expressed sympathy for Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland, who will miss the Euro after it was revealed that he will be out for around three months with a fractured ankle sustained against Germany.
“To get your chance against Germany and fracture your ankle in that way, it’s a devastating blow,” Hodgson said.
“All of us felt enormous sympathy for him, and empathy too. But he was very stoic. He said to me, ‘I’ll come back stronger. This won’t affect my career in any way.’
“Our best wishes are with him. We’re all going to miss him because we were hoping he was going to be a part of it.”