Osman's callup crowns Everton's fine start
Everton captain Phil Neville says midfielder Leon Osman deserves his surprise England call-up after playing a key role in the Merseyside club's fine start to the season.
Three Toffees players were on Thursday called up for the friendly away to Sweden on November 14, with left-back Leighton Baines and central defender Phil Jagielka also in Roy Hodgson's 23-man England squad.
But it is the inclusion of 31-year-old Osman that has caught the eye, with many observers believing the player's hopes of representing his country had passed him by.
"Ossie's selection is because of his outstanding form this season and his conistency over the last nine seasons," said Neville, who won 59 England caps.
"He's technically as good as anyone."
It is a reflection of Everton's impressive start to the season that they have more players in the latest England squad than reigning champions Manchester City.
David Moyes's team have lost just one of their opening 10 league games and start Saturday's match at home to struggling Sunderland fourth in the table.
But Moyes knows his side should have more than 17 points to their name.
Having opened the campaign with a 1-0 home win over Manchester United, Everton have drawn the last four and conceded a 90th-minute equaliser in their last outing at Fulham.
Despite last week's frustrating finish at Craven Cottage, Moyes is expected to name an unchanged side including Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini, Croatia striker Nikica Jelavic and South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar, who have scored 10 of Everton's 19 league goals between them.
Meanwhile, Lee Cattermole has called on Sunderland supporters to look at "the bigger picture" after their difficult start to the season.
The Black Cats are the lowest scorers in the top four English divisions with just six goals and a paltry 13 shots on target in their first nine games, while they have registered just one win – against Wigan Athletic – in that time.
In fact, the victory over Roberto Martinez's side is their only success in a run of 17 league games stretching back to March.
With supporters growing increasingly frustrated, manager Martin O'Neill faces the first major crisis of his near 12-month reign; one exacerbated by the recent League Cup exit at the hands of second-tier local rivals Middlesbrough.
Sunderland, who have taken just 14 points from a possible 51, have not won in their last 13 visits to Goodison Park, but Cattermole has called for patience from the stands.
"We need to be aware of the bigger picture. It's about the team overall and the season as a whole," said the Sunderland skipper.
"The high number of draws we've ground out shows we're a difficult side for other teams to beat and we know we're capable of producing much more than we've shown so far in an attacking sense."
Defender Wes Brown (knee) remains on the long-term injury list, and James McFadden, the former Everton and Scotland forward who recently signed a three-month contract at the club, is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Cattermole insists hard work on the training ground will help to rectify the situation, and the former England Under-21 international added: "We'll keep working and hopefully that big picture will start to look a bit brighter."