Adam Johnson's form in January and February was scintillating. Arguably the best of his career and saw him net seven goals along the way and a Barclays Player Of The Month award. Of course, form and accolades count for nothing when it comes to being picked for England.
In today's Northern Echo, Johnson has spoken about playing for England and just how you get in the squad;
I think a lot of people were surprised. I think a lot of people saw me as almost a certainty but if you look at the last squad it was almost all top eight bar Caulker, who wasn't meant to be in it but for (Phil) Jagielka's injury. I think that says a lot about the selection. I don't think it really matters how well you're playing, it's who you play for.
It's a fact isn't it? If you look at the last ten squads: Southampton have been playing well, they're in the top eight - and the rest are Everton, Tottenham, Man United, City, clubs like that.
All my caps came when I was at City. Sometimes I got picked when I wasn't playing. Now I'm playing more and I can't get a cap. It's just a fact. It's not me being sour. Some of the players, if they weren't playing for the big clubs, wouldn't be anywhere near it (the squad).
I came to Sunderland to play more, rather than thinking about England. But some games I wasn't even on the bench at City but I was still in the England squad.
It's refreshing honesty from a professional footballer, who could have quite easily went down a route of "well I'll keep my head down and work hard" along with other bland platitudes.
I do feel it's naive and misguided to think Johnson should be on the plane to Brazil, but for the recent game against Denmark he was surely worth a look from Roy Hodgson having been in the form of his life at the time. Especially in a 30-man squad, I don't think Johnson falls outside of that number of top English players available at the time.
Notably Hodgson has visited the North East just once since taking over from Fabio Capello.
Johnson has said however that he hasn't given up on playing for England and perhaps changes after the World Cup in Brazil this summer will change opinions;
I felt it was probably the closest I'd been under Roy Hodgson, but in his mind I don't think he really wanted any big decisions to make so he stuck with the players who had been around since the start of the campaign. That's life, that's the way it goes. It will be interesting to see how it goes in the World Cup and what happens after.I haven't really thought about it since the (the announcement of) the last squad, I've just got on with it.
I think it will probably take a few injuries for me to get in but if you're still playing well and fit, you never know. In December I was probably 50th choice, and it was only in January people started talking about it. I've got to just play my game.
Hopefully come the summer Johnson doesn't feel the need to jump-ship and go back to sitting on the bench at a larger club in order to further his ambitions.