Given the way Darius Vassell felt the last time he wore the white of England he won't thank his former team-mate for saying it but Paul Merson has backed the Aston Villa striker to regain his place in Sven-G^ran Eriksson's squad.
Having played in the same Villa side as Vassell on about 40 occasions, the Walsall manager believes that, despite the 24-year-old's deficiencies in front of goal, his pace is likely to earn him a recall to the international scene.
If the Birmingham-born forward could get back into the Swede's plans for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan it would complete a difficult journey for Vassell, who has had to battle injury and loss of form since he last appeared for the national side in the Euro 2004 defeat to Portugal.
England lost that quarter-final on penalties and it was Vassell's decisive spot kick that hit goalkeeper Ricardo and not the back of the net, meaning his departure from the Estadio da Luz was rather more tearful then the entire country had hoped.
He started the season brightly with an opening-day goal against Southampton but lost form before breaking his ankle in October.
Vassell has only just returned to first-team action and is being tipped to make it back to the top. Merson said: "I think he'll get back into the England squad because the manager [Eriksson] seems to like him. He likes having his pace on the bench so that he can come on with 20 minutes to go and really stretch a game."
Merson spent four years at Villa Park and watched Vassell develop from an inexperienced youngster, whose appearances came mainly from the substitutes' bench, to a Villa regular and established international.
That makes him as qualified as anyone to comment on the attacker's attributes. "He has serious pace, that it his main quality," he said.
"He has got good feet, I wouldn't say that he is a good finisher at all, but his sheer pace frightens centre-halves and if you want to make it in the big league now as a centre-forward you have to have pace - he has it in abundance."
In fact, as his own legs began to slow down, Merson often benefited from the impact his former team-mate had on the side.
"He is good for midfield players because he opens the game up with his runs over the top. That causes defenders to drop off and that creates space for people like Gareth Barry and Lee
Hendrie to get on the ball and do their stuff."
But Merson is also realistic about the extent of Vassell's ability. The striker has been criticised by his manager David O'Leary for not scoring enough goals and Merson warned the Irishman it is a situation that may never change.
According to the 36-year-old, finishers are born and Vassell isn't one. "Finishing is not something you can learn to do," he said.
"You either have it or you don't. You could stay back after training every day taking shots but when you are one on one with the keeper and there are 20,000 people it has to be instinctive. With Darius it is not. He gets his goals but they are good ones not bad. Goalscorers get bad goals."
Merson also believes that Vassell's return from injury could breathe life into Villa's bid to qualify for the Uefa Cup next season.
He is two games into his comeback, following the break against Fulham on October 23, and the effect of his return could be similar to that of a new signing. Villa need three points from Sunday's derby with Birmingham City if they are to bridge the four-point and four-team gap between themselves and sixth place which should be sufficiently high for European qualification.