Relegation has not stalled the Baggies' defender's England ambitions, as he tells Hyder Jawad
Paul Robinson has not given up on earning a call-up to the England squad, despite enduring relegation with West Bromwich Albion.
The left-back was a revelation for Albion last season and it was a surprise to some that he did not receive attention at international level.
The departure of SvenGoran Eriksson as England head coach could count in Robinson's favour but now the Albion defender needs to impress Steve McClaren.
There is a precedent for players representing England despite not playing in the top flight of English football. Andrew Johnson was playing in the Coca-Cola Championship with Crystal Palace two seasons ago when he attracted the attention of Eriksson. In 1976, current England Under-21 coach Peter Taylor famously represented England while a player with Palace, who were then in the old Third Division.
But Robinson has little interest in history. He remains convinced that he has as much chance of making the England squad in the Championship as he did in the Premiership. Perhaps Eriksson's demise actually improves Robinson's chances.
"Sven leaving and West Brom dropping a division is just one of those things," Robinson said. "I don't think you have to be playing in the top flight [to be selected for England]. It is about being consistent. Andy Johnson was playing outside the Premier-ship but he was still included in the England squad.
"I am a confident player. I will keep trying to do my best and if anything else comes up, that will be a bonus for me. It is a fresh start for me and a fresh start for the new manager, Mr McClaren.
"Just because I am not playing in the Premiership, it does not mean that I am not England-quality. You just have to keep playing your game, keep improving and this will be an extra test for me; a test of how strong this league and I have to be up for the challenge."
And yet, Robinson might have remained in the Premiership had he accepted the opportunity to return to Watford. The Hertfordshire club wanted to sign Robinson, whom they sold to Albion three years ago, but he decided that remaining at The Hawthorns was more appropriate. He does not regret it.
"Every footballer wants to play in the top level for as long as they can. I am no different. I want to keep proving myself each season and, obviously, to be the subject of interest from the Premiership was a great honour for me.
"Obviously, my mind was made up by [Albion manager] Bryan Robson. The chairman told me the plans for the club and that made it clear to me and made it easy for me to sign a new deal.
"Being offered a new deal by Watford was something I had to consider. That was where I was born and bred. The offer was turned down [by Albion] and I accept that. The chairman [Jeremy Peace] wanted to keep everyone together. He revealed his commitment to getting promotion straight away and I accept his decision not to sell me.
"I have got my head down and worked hard in training. I spoke to the gaffer and he made my decision for me. It wasn't hard to do.
"The manager and the chairman set their stall out for this season as soon as last season finished. They want to keep the strongest squad possible at the club and I feel as
though we have that - as long as no one is injured. This league is hard but, as long as we keep everyone fit and keep clean sheets, we should do well."
Robinson has now endured relegation twice, first with Watford in 2001, now with Albion. It felt significantly worse second time around.
"To deal with the disappointment of relegation, I just went away with my family; chilled out a bit, just to clear my mind a bit. I am now back, full of optimism. We know it is going to be a difficult season, with a lot of tough games, but we're all up to the challenge and looking to bounce back as quickly as we can." n The Baggies last night had a £1.5 million offer for Queens Park Rangers defender Danny Shittu accepted by the West London club.
The eventual fee could double depending on certain criteria and Shittu will travel to the Midlands today to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical.
Robson has been tracking Shittu throughout the summer, stressing the need to add defensive strength because injuries to Neil Clement and Thomas Gaardsoe mean they will miss the start of the season.