Jay Rodriguez is playing even better now than he was when he made his England debut, according to Roy Hodgson.
The Saints attacker earned a first cap in the friendly against Chile but came in for some criticism after an underwhelming display.
Hodgson has clearly recognised that the majority of the team were flat on that occasion and has handed Rodriguez another chance to impress after naming him in the squad to face Brazil at Wembley next Wednesday night.
“He has certainly done very well,” said the England manager.
“He plays a different position. Against Chile he played as a left sided winger/midfield player. He doesn’t always play that position for Southampton.
“I am very pleased that taking him off at half time has not damaged him in any way and in fact he is playing even better now than when we selected him.
“I think he fully deserves his place among that group of forward players and he will be one of those putting the others under pressure for a place in the 23.
“I’m pleased for him and pleased to have with us. He’s there on merit. Shaw is there on merit.
“I watch them every week, or if I don’t it’s Ray (Lewington) or Gary (Neville) and every time the reports that come back is that they have done well.”
Whilst Luke Shaw grabbed the headlines and Hodgson spoke about Rodriguez, the other Saints pair of Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert slipped a little more under the radar at the squad announcement.
Both were expected to be in the 30 man party and duly were.
From a Lambert point of view the biggest interest was in Hodgson’s words regarding Andy Carroll.
The West Ham striker is seen as the only direct rival to Lambert making the plane to Brazil but was left out of this squad.
Hodgson has refused to rule him out of Brazil altogether but he will clearly need a superb final 11 games of the season to prevent the Saints talisman fulfilling a fairytale rise to the very top of the game.
“I said at the beginning that I’ve not chosen him because I’ve not had a chance to look at him,” said Hodgson.
“He came back and played two games and then disappeared again. That’s not a lot since July.
“I chose him for the squad I picked to go to Brazil in May but then he was injured. Just playing two or three matches in ten months is something that makes it hard to get in.
“But he now got two months to play and convince me that he is better than some of those guys who are in this squad.
“If I’m convinced he is, then I will select him. It’s no more complicated than that.
“This is not a definitive list, not the 30 from which the 23 will absolutely be chosen. It’s possible for people to break in.”