It never once threatened to become a Joe Kinnear moment - but it was clear West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray was mildly exasperated with journalists ahead of the Premier League clash with Fulham.
Scott Carson’s hopes of an international return dominated the media’s agenda, superseding any of the promise offered by Zoltan Gera’s return to The Hawthorns, or the possibility of another three points.
In contrast to several of his players in the past week, Mowbray refused to join the growing throng of cheerleaders hyping up the goalkeeper’s claim for an England international call-up.
“You are all looking short-term,” he said. “Scott Carson’s talent will take him where it is going to take him. Ability, consistency, mental attitude and strength makes footballers and you are either a top international star or you play in the Championship - but you find your level.
“The players at the top teams are there because they have been the best players, week in and week out, for teams like us.
“You don’t get signed by Manchester United for being average elsewhere. Their players have had to be the best to attract that attention. That’s what Carson has to do for us in order to be noticed by England - but I am genuinely only interested in what he does for us.
“I am not a decision-maker for England and I see no benefit in me sitting here saying ‘I hope he does this’ or ‘I hope he does that’ just to fill your newspapers, with due respect. It’s genuinely not a concern of mine.”
There is a genuine chance that Carson will be among those named tomorrow evening to face Kazakhstan next week, however.
Not only has the 22-year-old’s prospects of a return to the England fold been strengthened by Paul Robinson’s injury, they have been greatly helped by a series of fine performances for Albion.
England’s other hopefuls, meanwhile, have been in underwhelming form of late. Robert Green, West Ham United’s contender for one of the three goalkeeping slots, was overshadowed by Carson when both were on show at The Hawthorns while Portsmouth’s David James has been beaten with worrying ease and regularity in recent weeks.
A call-up for Carson would mark the end of a remarkable transformation in the player’s fortunes after a disastrous debut against Croatia at Wembley six months ago.
Having been due to sign for Aston Villa from Liverpool in a deal approaching £10million at the end of last season, he was dropped by Villa manager Martin O’Neill who then decided not to take up the option to sign him on a permanent basis. Mowbray jumped at the chance.
He said: “When he became available, it was a pretty easy decision for me to make, to be honest. I’m not concerned whether we have got a bargain, or whether we played £10 million for him or two bob. How much is any footballer worth?
“That’s the madness of football. We can sit here and talk about £20 million players who haven’t really produced or free signings who are world-beaters.
“I am only interested in Scott producing for us and he’s doing exceptionally well but he is just part of the team.
“The good thing about him is that he has humility and doesn’t carry any ego with him; he just gets his head down and gets on with it.
“If you have ever seen a professional team train, you will know that the goalkeepers work harder than anyone.
“I knew he had enough quality to get in the England squad so, without watching him ten times before I signed him, I knew he must have the quality to improve our goalkeeping situation.
“It’s about talent, for me. Of course, I want my players to play internationally but I’m not going to sit here and wish it on them - they have to do it themselves. I’m sure he is in the frame, seeing as you are asking me the question.
“If he had a few stinkers, he would have been an ex-England goalkeeeper with very little hope of getting a recall.
“The FA will have six to eight goalkeepers they will look at every week so they will know who is the best but I am not going to sit here and say I hope he gets in the squad.”
Should Carson get the call, Mowbray is sure to be tried by more tiresome questions about his goalkeeper during an international break which, for once, will not be seen as an unwelcome interruption to momentum at The Hawthorns.
Mowbray will have the chance to get some players back fit for the Manchester United game at Old Trafford on October 18, with the most notable absentees from the Baggies squad being Chris Brunt and Felipe Teixeira. Kim Do-Hoen will be out for between six to eight weeks with a medial ligament injury.
Mowbray added: “Felipe had his 60 minutes at Bishops Stortford in the week and he did very well but I don’t think it’s time to throw him in when he’s been out for six months.
“The boy is desperate to play but, in my mind, he needs to play 90 minutes before we get him out there. As for Brunt, you don’t rush hamstrings but we will be alright.
“I looked at my board today and there are still a few players disappointed because they didn’t make the squad. It’s good that the international break is coming, because we will be able to get a few people back in contention.”