The fortunes of most footballers, even those considered among the best in their country, tend to wax and wane. Very few are able to perform at a consistently high level for years on end as leading figures on the domestic and international scene. All sorts of factors can intervene to mean they fade from view.
As Gareth Southgate takes charge of his first matches since an invigorating World Cup, let’s spare a thought for some of those who are now a long way from enjoying another call-up. These 10 England internationals from the last decade are still active, but nowhere near consideration...
Gabriel Agbonlahor (last cap: Belarus, October 2009)
A lightning-quick striker with a decent goalscoring record for someone of his age, peak Agbonlahor was given his England debut by Fabio Capello in a friendly against Germany in 2008, aged 22. He went on to make two more international appearances over the next year without finding the net, and received his final call up in November 2011.
He was never selected by Roy Hodgson, though, and his performances for Aston Villa stagnated over several years, then fell off a cliff as relegation loomed in 2015/16. Agbonlahor’s professionalism was questioned as he gained weight, while pictures emerged of him smoking a shisha pipe in Dubai and inhaling laughing gas. He barely played under Steve Bruce and the 31-year-old is currently without a club having been released at the end of last season.
Darren Bent (last cap: Spain, November 2011)
Among the best and most consistent goalscorers over a number of years at mid-ranking Premier League clubs, Bent peaked sooner than expected. He has arguably been on a downward slope since a difficult second full season at Aston Villa under Alex McLeish in 2011/12, where the chances that the then-26-year-old would normally thrive on were in painfully short supply.
England opportunities dried up thereafter, and despite an enviable record at the top level – 81 goals in 186 top-flight appearances across his spells with Charlton, Tottenham and Sunderland – plus four strikes for the Three Lions, he never got to represent his country at a major tournament.
Bent was able to find a semblance of form in the Championship with Derby before being frozen out completely last season, which he ended on loan at relegated Burton Albion. He's currently out of contract and was linked with a return to the Brewers on a pay-as-you-play deal. At 34, he’s over a year younger than Jermain Defoe.
Micah Richards (last cap: Netherlands, February 2012)
A strong and tenacious defender who seemed to emerge fully formed within Manchester City's first team as a 17-year-old, Richards was called into the England squad by Steve McClaren having made just 28 professional appearances. He made his debut against the Netherlands in 2006, becoming his country’s youngest-ever defender, and looked set to be a permanent fixture in the side for years to come.
Richards earned 11 of his 13 caps under McClaren while still a teenager. Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce, in his single match in caretaker charge, were responsible for his other two appearances. After being overtaken by new signings at Manchester City, he completed a disastrous move to Aston Villa in the summer of 2015. Richards was relegated in his first season with the club, has played just twice in the Championship – and not at all since October 2016.
Fraizer Campbell (last cap: Netherlands, February 2012)
It’s fair to say that Campbell’s England call-up came as something of a surprise even at the time. After Fabio Capello’s unexpected resignation, Stuart Pearce was tasked with filling the void for a friendly against the Netherlands in 2012 as the FA went about appointing a successor. Pearce took the opportunity to promote some of the players he’d previously worked with at under-21 level and Campbell was a notable beneficiary.
The striker, then of Sunderland, had scored just six league goals in the previous four seasons but took his place in the squad alongside Darren Bent, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck. Campbell came on as a substitute in a 3-2 defeat but hasn’t had a sniff of international football since. He returned to Hull, and the Championship, last summer.
Martin Kelly (last cap: Norway, May 2012)
Not all records are worth boasting about, as Kelly knows only too well. The former Liverpool defender holds the record for the shortest international career of any England player in history, after replacing Phil Jones for the final two minutes of a 1-0 friendly win over Norway. A late addition, Kelly was also called up to the squad for Euro 2012 after Gary Cahill withdrew through injury, but failed to make an appearance at the tournament.
A ruptured anterior cruciate ligament halted Kelly’s progress at Anfield as he missed more than a year of football and was eventually sold to Crystal Palace in August 2014. He remains a fringe player at the club whose versatility enables him to fill in anywhere across the backline, but not as first choice in any single position. Heading into his prime years at 28, there’s little prospect of adding to that single England cap.
Carl Jenkinson (last cap: Sweden, November 2012)
England’s friendly against Sweden in November 2012, chiefly remembered for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s remarkable four-goal haul, featured five debuts for the away side. Carl Jenkinson’s came as a 75th-minute substitute, and that brief taste of international football has been his only one so far.
The 20-year-old right-back – a Finland youth international – had been starting regularly for Arsenal, leading him to be fast-tracked into the England senior squad. After being unable to cement his spot under Arsene Wenger, however, loans to West Ham (twice) and Birmingham followed. Injuries haven’t helped, but the 26-year-old Jenkinson somehow remains at the Emirates Stadium with an uncertain future.
READ MORE: Danny Ings in line for England call up
Steven Caulker (last cap: Sweden, November 2012)
Another to make his debut on that eventful night in Stockholm. Unlike Jenkinson, though, Caulker was involved from the start. The Tottenham centre-back, who’d returned from a successful loan spell at Swansea to feature regularly under Andre Villas-Boas, even scored in the first half by volleying in a Steven Gerrard free-kick from close range.
Caulker was substituted for Ryan Shawcross, who fared less well on his first England appearance, and hasn’t received another call-up over the last six years. His career seemed to unravel after a move to QPR in 2014, and the reasons for that became apparent in a brave interview with the Guardian where he admitted to problems with alcohol, gambling and depression.
The 26-year-old rebuilt his career at Dundee last season but triggered a release clause in his contract at the end of August 2018 and is expected to sign for a new club soon.
Jack Rodwell (last cap: Brazil, June 2013)
Several young players have risked a move to Manchester City over the last decade, only to struggle for first-team opportunities in such a relentlessly competitive environment. Rodwell was one of them, making just 16 league appearances in two seasons after his £15m move from Everton in 2012.
It was with the Toffees where the midfielder made his England debut, replacing Phil Jones in England’s 1-0 friendly win against Spain in 2011. Two further caps followed, but Rodwell was out of the picture when he signed for Sunderland in 2014 to revive his career. He played infrequently in a struggling team which suffered two relegations, was ostracised under accusations of a lack of commitment to the club, and became a pariah figure among supporters as he continued to earn heavily without featuring.
Still only 27, Rodwell signed for Blackburn in August 2018 and will be stuck on three England caps for the foreseeable future.
Tom Cleverley (last cap: Germany, November 2013)
Like so many others, Cleverley’s England career ended almost as soon as his association with Manchester United did. Being part of one of the world’s biggest clubs certainly has its advantages, and the likelihood of receiving international recognition is one of them. The midfielder won 13 caps while at Old Trafford and his last call-up came in July 2015, the same month he departed for Everton.
Moving back to Watford, where he enjoyed an impressive loan spell nine years ago, hasn’t exactly helped his cause either. Younger and more technically impressive team-mates like Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah are certainly on Gareth Southgate’s radar but the 29-year-old Cleverley’s time as an international has come and gone. He hasn’t played at all since January 2018 because of injury.
Jon Flanagan (last cap: Ecuador, June 2014)
The full-back’s breakthrough at Liverpool came during the thrilling 2013/14 season, when it briefly looked as though the club’s long title drought was finally going to end. An injury to Jose Enrique opened up a space on the left side of defence, and Flanagan seized his opportunity impressively to become a regular during the run-in.
International recognition followed with an England debut as a substitute in June 2014, and he was even named on standby for a place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad. Injuries and indiscipline have been a major feature of his subsequent fall from grace, which reached its nadir with a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend. Former team-mate Steven Gerrard recently offered him a fresh start up in Scotland with Rangers.