International futures are funny things, easy to predict but near impossible to realise and nowhere is this more so than in England, where despite the apparent dearth of home players in the top flight, call-ups are hard to come by.
With Roy Hodgson’s men 33/100 to score a first international win over Montenegro at Wembley we construct an alternative XI of players tipped to pull on the Three Lions shirt.
Goalkeeper – Simon Moore, Cardiff City
Former international stopper David James was the sage who foresaw greatness for the young custodian while he was making a name for himself at Brentford earlier this year.
However, a move to the Welsh capital, where he is third-choice behind David Marshall and another one-time international toutee in Joe Lewis, has seen him yet to make a competitive start.
Full-backs – Kelvin Wilson, Nottingham Forest and Kyle Naughton, Tottenham Hotspur
After some capable performances for Celtic in last season’s Champions League, Roy Hodgson was tempted to Parkhead to run the rule over the Forest man, with nothing further heard of the matter.
Naughton may be marooned on the wrong side of the pitch at Spurs, but former boss Kevin Blackwell suggested ‘if things go well for him then I would not be surprised to see him on the plane to (the 2010 World Cup in) South Africa’ when Everton were in for him in 2009.
Central-defence – Titus Bramble (unattached) and Steven Taylor, Newcastle
Back in 2009 Wigan boss Roberto Martinez suggested Bramble had ‘an international future, without a doubt.’
Fast-forward to 2013/14 and he’s without a club after spending the summer training with West Ham.
Taylor earned many of his 29 Under-21 caps as skipper and having made England squads in 2007 and 2013 his manager Alan Pardew apparently finds it ‘bewildering’ he has yet to earn a cap.
Wide-midfield – Marc Albrighton, Aston Villa and Adam Lallana, Southampton
England wing-wanderers Stewart Downing and Ashley Young both touted perennial substitute Albrighton for international honours after a bright star to life for the Villans in 2009.
Meanwhile only last week Mauricio Pochettino suggested Lallana was ‘actually very close to getting that call up to the national side.’
In the engine room – Tom Huddlestone, Hull and Fabian Delph, Aston Villa
A central pairing of recently tipped alternatives to Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard and Michael Carrick, the England prospects of Huddlestone and Delph have been pimped by fellow Spurs-reject Jake Livermore and Villa boss Paul Lambert respectively of late.
Up front – Adam Le Fondre, Reading and Dwight Gayle, Crystal Palace
After a spell of five goals in four appearances off the bench last term Le Fondre’s Reading boss Brian McDermott suggested he could perform the super sub role for his nation too – both men are now back in the Championship.
The Royals striker is joined in the front two by Palace youngster Gayle, of whom Peterborough director of football Barry Fry rhapsodised ‘under Ian Holloway’s management I believe he can become an England player.’