LONDON: Manchester United’s 18-year-old striker Marcus Rashford has been included by England manager Roy Hodgson in an initial 26-man squad for next month’s European Championship finals in France.

Newcastle winger Andros Townsend and Arsenal’s barely-fit-again Jack Wilshere have also been called up for the tournament but Theo Walcott and Phil Jagielka miss out while Danny Welbeck is absent through injury.

All 24 finalists have until May 31 to submit their 23-man squads for Euro 2016 being held from June 10 to July 10.

Rashford broke into the United team only in the second half of this season but quickly became a firm fixture.

He scored four times in his first two appearances and has seven goals from 16 games since making his senior debut on February 25.

Asked about Rashford’s chances of featuring in his final 23-man squad, Hodgson, 68, said: “The competition is quite strong, he’ll understand that.

“There’s no reason why he can’t knock someone off their perch, but it will be harder than some people might expect.”

Townsend, 24, ended the campaign strongly despite his club’s relegation from the Premier League.

Wilshere broke a leg last August and had made only one start this season for Arsenal – last Sunday.

Hodgson’s 26-man squad features two players from Premier League champions Leicester City – striker Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater – while Tottenham, who finished third, and Liverpool both provide five players.England kick off their Group B campaign against Russia on June 11 before facing Wales (June 16) and Slovakia (June 20).

They warm up for the tournament with matches against Turkey (at Manchester City on Sunday), Australia (Sunderland, May 27) and Portugal (Wembley, June 2).

Hodgson said he would like to tell the 23 players who have made the final squad after the game against Australia.

The squad

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Andros Townsend (Newcastle United), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).