Martin O'Neill remains convinced that Gareth Barry's international career has a future as well as a past and says that it is "only a matter of time" before the Aston Villa midfield player returns to the England squad.
O'Neill, the Villa manager, is becoming increasingly surprised that Barry is being overlooked by England.
But when England play Holland in Amsterdam tonight, Barry will be at home, watching on television, and preparing for Villa's match away to Wigan Athletic on Sunday.
Barry has played under four England head coaches — Kevin Keegan, Howard Wilkinson, Peter Taylor, and Sven-Goran Eriksson — but has not represented his country since he appeared as a late substitute against Serbia in Leicester in May 2003.
So far, he has been unable to impress Steve McClaren, the England head coach, although it is possible that Barry would have made the squad for the match in Holland had he not sustained a back problem. The injury caused Barry to miss Villa's match away to Everton last Saturday.
Barry has played eight times for England, between 2000 and 2003, and rarely in the same position. It seems that his versatility, which has been so important at club level, has proved to be a hindrance at international level.
And yet Barry, aged 25, has been one of the best players in the Premiership this season, scoring four goals in 11 appearances but equally effective as a defensive midfield player or even a left back.
O'Neill is certainly inspired by the player. "I thought he [Barry] had done well enough to be in consideration but that is the England manager's prerogative to choose whoever he feels is capable of doing that job," he said.
"I think we all know and my own opinion is that it is a matter of time. Unfortunately, he [Barry] picked up the injury, the squad may well have been picked before it, but it will happen for him. Make no mistake, he will play well enough not to be ignored."
But Barry is not the only Villa player to be tipped for a return to the England squad. So, too, is Gavin McCann, the midfield player, who has represented his country only once and that was in 2001.
McCann has been impressive this season, as has Gabriel Agbonlahor, the Villa striker, whose promotion from the England Under-21 team to the full squad is widely predicted.
As far as O'Neill is concerned, it is essential that Barry is fit to face Wigan. With McCann suspended, after being cautioned five times, the Villa midfield would be short of experience if Barry was also missing. "Gavin will miss the next game, but it is just one game and Gareth Barry should be back," O'Neill said.
"Given the way he has been playing, we would miss McCann even for one game - but there again, with the way Barry has been playing, I thought we would miss him at Everton and we got the three points.
"The bruising is coming out of Gareth’s back. His kidneys haven’t been affected, so it is just a muscular knock."
O’Neill is confident that Isaiah Osbourne, the young midfield player, will sign a new long-term contract in the next fortnight.
Osbourne, aged 19, caught O’Neill’s eye after the former Celtic manager took over as Villa boss in August and he made a Premiership debut as a substitute against Fulham last month.
Osbourne made a first start in the Carling Cup tie away to Leicester City and was also in the teams that lost 3-1 away to Liverpool and won 1-0 away to Everton in the Premiership.
"I would hope, certainly within the next fortnight, to have it [the contract] sorted out," O'Neill said. "I started to talk to Isaiah’s agent even before he had broken through into the first team.
"I think Isaiah would definitely want to stay and there is no better place for him at the moment. I’ve got a lot of time for him. He is a fine talent. It is very early but keep an eye out for him. I think he can do a bit. Hopefully, they are not famous last words."