Birmingham City chairman David Gold has expressed surprise that Emile Heskey is not in England's squad for the crucial World Cup qualifier with Austria and believes that fate has conspired against him.
Gold was sitting next to Sven-Goran Eriksson, the England coach, in Arsenal's directors' box last Sunday as the Swede cast his eye over the in-form striker before announcing his squad for fixtures against Austria and Poland.
Eriksson snubbed Heskey (pictured) and has instead opted for Peter Crouch to play the role as a target man.
Yet Gold is adamant that Heskey is a viable alternative to the former Aston Villa man and warrants a place in the squad on his form.
" I'm surprised that Emile isn't in the squad," Gold said. "But I am a former bricklayer, so what do I know?" he added tongue in cheek.
"If I was manager, then I would play Emile but I am biased.
"I sat next to Sven at Highbury and I kept looking at him hoping that Emile would catch his eye.
"I was so disappointed for Emile as he was outstanding and giving Sol Cambpell a tough time until Kenny Cunningham got sent off.
"Emile then had to play wide left and then back up front on his own and Emile is the sort of person who would always put the team before his own ambitions."
Gold's verdict on Heskey was echoed by Birmingham's assistant manager, Eric Black. The Blues No 2 is a confirmed Heskey fan and believes he is as good as any player in Europe for holding the ball up.
Black has spent a chunk of his career in France and worked with the cream of Europe, so such lavish praise is a real boon for Heskey.
Black said: "I don't want to get involved in talking about selection, but I maintain that Emile is as good as any player in Europe at holding the ball up.
"I have played and worked abroad and he is excellent in that role.
"He has been playing magnificently well this season and is an ideal professional who has never given the club a minute's trouble.
"He trains very well every day and is a big presence, both on and off the pitch. Emile is more than capable of playing for England and I am convinced that he wouldn't let anyone down."
However, while Heskey plays second fiddle to Crouch in the England pecking order, Black says that, from a club point of view, it is of a huge benefit to Birmingham. He was Blues' player of the year last term and has started this campaign as though he has a point to prove once again.
Meanwhile, former Birmingham full-back Martin Grainger has been granted a testimonial at St Andrew's on November 9 (7.45pm).
The popular full-back retired last December due to a knee injury after 266 appearances for the club and his Martin Grainger/Celebrity XI will take on Birmingham's first team.
Those agreeing to play for Grainger's team, to be managed by Barry Fry, are Andrew Johnson, Geoff Horsfield, Michael Johnson, Ian Bennett, Dele Adebola, Martin O'Connor, Jon McCarthy, Paul Furlong, Jerry Gill, Paul Devlin and Paul Tait. Trevor Francis has also agreed to make a special appearance. n Peter Till, Birmingham City's 20-year-old winger, has joined League One outfit Scunthorpe United on a month's loan.