EVERTON manager Roberto Martinez believes competition for places has re-ignited Aaron Lennon’s chances of an England recall.
The 28-year-old has scored in his last three matches, the first time in his career he has achieved that, and is arguably in his best form for a couple of years having fallen out of favour at former club Tottenham before his move to Goodison Park.
Lennon has not played for England for three years but seeing team-mate Tom Cleverley, who last featured for the international side in November 2013, join Everton colleagues Phil Jagielka, John Stones, Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley at Thursday’s England get-together at St George’s Park has provided extra incentive.
“Lennon has not been invited so five out of those six is not bad,” said Martinez.
“He was the last winger to arrive [at the club]; Aiden McGeady was in front of him and Gerard Deulofeu started this season really sharply and the competition on that right side was really strong.
“Aaron is a very proud man and he will be very proud of representing England again but I don’t think that was the drive for him reaching the level he has.
“I think the drive was to try to earn a place in the team and clearly he has given a lesson to everyone with how to behave in that role.
“He is a winger with a lot of experience and has the quality to get away from defenders but his defensive qualities are very strong.
“He will be ready if he needs to help England but at the moment he needs to concentrate on keeping the level of his performances he has shown in the last three games which has been the best consistent form he has had at Everton.”
Roy Hodgson’s invitation to Cleverley is recognition for the progress the midfielder has made since joining Everton in the summer.
“I think Tom has been in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts for a long time,” added Martinez.
“Before he signed Tom was part of the England set-up and has really good experience in that group.
“I think it is a good idea that the England camp gets together and they can review what they’ve done and prepare and have a bit of a vision going forward.
“From our point of view it shows the real strength we have with that group mentioned with possibly one or two more who could help the England team if it is needed from now until the end of the season.”
Despite Everton’s disappointing season so far on the pitch their players never seem to be far away from the headlines - usually in relation to transfer speculation - with Jagielka the latest to be linked with a move away.
A report suggested the 33-year-old was the next target for big-spending Chinese clubs but Martinez rubbished that idea, as well as suggestions American goalkeeper Tim Howard could return to Major League Soccer.
“Someone, somewhere has come up with a story. I can tell you there is no substance to that rumour,” he said.
“I can guarantee no-one will leave between now and the end of the season unless it is a loan to the Championship for a player we feel needs a bit of playing time.
“Any speculation is a waste of time.”
Howard and centre-back Stones, who have both missed the last three matches with knee and hamstring injuries respectively, are in with a chance of being fit for Saturday’s visit of West Brom while deadline day signing Oumar Niasse could feature in the squad for the first time.
“John and Tim are in a very similar situation and we are hoping they can join the group at the end of the week and then we can make a full assessment and it will be a late decision to see if they can be involved in the squad at the weekend,” added Martinez.
“Mo Besic (hamstring) is not going to be involved in this squad but I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t involved after West Brom.”