Gareth Barry believes the dearth of Aston Villa players in the latest England squad is a reflection of the alarming slump in form of Martin O'Neill's side.
Fabio Capello has named up to six Villa players in his plans earlier in the campaign with Barry, Emile Heskey, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young, Luke Young and Curtis Davies included at various times. But only Barry and Heskey were included for Saturday's friendly with Slovakia and Wednesday's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine, and the latter has been forced to withdraw with a hamstring injury.
"A few weeks back, when Aston Villa were flying and on a great run, we had six players in the England squad. Now we have just two," said Barry. "It's tough (seeing so many dropped) but not really (a surprise) when you see the form we've been in."
He added: "We've only picked up one or two points up from the last 15 and now have two players in the squad so I am probably not surprised."
It seems unthinkable that Capello would jettison Barry given he has started England's last nine internationals.
And the 28-year-old is quick to praise the impact O'Neill has made on his development during his three years at Villa Park.
He said: "My game has improved so much since Martin O'Neill came in. He was the one who initially switched me into central midfield and that coincided with my international call-up.
"I owe a lot to Martin O'Neill. He has given me confidence at club level and improved me as a player as well."
Peter Crouch is likely to recover from a knock against Slovakia in time for tomorrow's clash and Barry is confident his ex-Villa team-mate can effectively replace Heskey.
Barry said: "There aren't too many about who can play that role as Emile does. He's been a big part of teams wherever he's been and players like playing with them. In terms of that, he is unique and can play a big part for your team. He can do a great job."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms