Even before a ball was kicked in the debacle that was England's Euro 2016 campaign, the squad Roy Hodgson selected for the tournament in France was coming under scrutiny.
A clear lack of wingers looked foolish considering the tactics employed by the Three Lions, whilst the decision to select an unfit Jack Wilshere and out of form Ross Barkley over in-form midfielders like Mark Noble and Danny Drinkwater left fans scratching their heads.
Now, three months on and with his own ties with England a thing of the past, Gary Neville has explained exactly why both Noble and Drinkwater were left out of the 23 man squad.
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Speaking to TalkSport, England's assistant manager under Hodgson revealed that decision was based on a loyalty to those players who had helped the national side ease through qualification.
On West Ham skipper Mark Noble - a man who has perennially been talked about as a potential England international but never received a cap - Neville said:
We didn’t pick Mark Noble, even though he might have been in better form than Ross Barkley, because we invested in Ross Barkley.
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"He was our man, he was the person who was the most talented player."
As for Drinkwater, a man who had huge support amongst fans following his pivotal role in helping Leicester do the unthinkable and claim the Premier League title, Neville effectively admitted to having blind faith in Wilshere's ability to perform despite missing virtually all of the domestic campaign through injury.
"We didn’t pick Danny Drinkwater over Jack Wilshere because we had faith in the ability of Jack Wilshere."
Of course, neither decision paid off out in France. Wilshere was largely anonymous during his cameo appearances for Hodgson's team while Barkley didn't play a single minute for England before they crashed out to Iceland in the second round.
Neville went on to explain that squad places were given to those players who England had "invested in" rather than the form of individual players.
That’s not to say no-one can break in, but when you go down the route of investing in John Stones, you can’t then pick Phil Jagielka over John Stones for the tournament.
"You have to invest in John Stones, even though Phil Jagielka might be in better form."
Ultimately that investment backfired for everyone involved, at least for the short term.
Perhaps one day Hodgson and Neville will be heralded for giving Barkley, Stones and co. tournament experience at a young age.
For now, though, ask any England fan and they'd probably tell you they'd have taken Drinkwater on the plane over most of those who did make the cut.
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