Danny Drinkwater's England future could be in doubt after Gareth Southgate revealed that the midfielder snubbed a call-up for November's international friendlies.
The Chelsea man has suffered from a niggling calf strain all season - an injury that has restricted him to just 103 minutes' worth of action since his big money move from Leicester City.
In quotes published by the Daily Mail, Southgate admitted that the 27-year-old had decided against featuring for the Three Lions against Germany and Brazil and stated why Drinkwater had not taken up the chance to play.
He said: "I wanted to find out where he felt he was. He's obviously only played 70 minutes for Chelsea in terms of starting and he felt he wasn't ready yet to play this level.
"The physical demands at this level are incredibly high now, you've got to feel that you are in peak physical condition.
"It's a conversation we have with the players all the time. If Danny didn't feel he was ready for that I can understand given the amount of minutes he's had."
Danny Drinkwater has played about 45 minutes of football over three subsititute appearances since May. Of course he can’t play in an England friendly.— Charlie Skillen (@charlieskillen) November 9, 2017
Drinkwater has made just four appearances for Chelsea so far, with only one of those coming from the start, as he continues to build up his match sharpness following a pre-season interrupted by a calf strain.
The centre midfielder has come in for slight criticism from some quarters for rejecting the chance to play for his country, and ex-striker Christ Sutton claimed that Drinkwater's career with his national side could be in jeopardy as a result of that snub.
He told the Daily Mail: "Danny Drinkwater has made the biggest mistake of his career in snubbing Gareth Southgate.
Danny Drinkwater declining an England call-up deeply angers me. Why on earth would you NOT want to play for your country?— Dan Church (@DJChurch94) November 9, 2017
He's not fully fit. So? He played versus Manchester United... Absolute nonsense. Our international set-up is becoming a laughing stock. #ThreeLions #England
"Telling Glenn Hoddle that I would not play in an England B fixture in 1998 was the worst decision I ever made. At the age of 24, my international career was over.
"Now, Drinkwater's chances of playing at the World Cup are surely over and future England managers - never mind Southgate - will not want to touch him.
"On a purely practical level, it would have made sense for Drinkwater to join up with England. Given he has had little game-time for Chelsea, these games would have been a perfect opportunity for him to get minutes under his belt.
"I cannot believe Drinkwater would not want to play in a World Cup. Is that not the dream for every footballer? If I could turn back the clock, I would have behaved differently. This is a decision Drinkwater will regret for years to come."