As a host of Saints stars departed for international duty this week, one of the club’s finest players was again left behind at St Mary’s.

For Morgan Schneiderlin, these breaks in the domestic calendar provide a reminder of the burning ambition he is yet to fulfil – representing his country, France.

Given his status at Saints, it is a strange sight to see the midfielder inactive during international windows such as these.

However, competition at his position within the French national team is fierce and, despite his magnificent form at club level, a senior call-up has so far eluded Schneiderlin. So, how does he feel staying put while watching so many of his teammates head off on international duty?

“It’s part of the game,” he said.

“My ambition, personally, is to get in the (France) squad, so that’s why I’m working very hard on everything, but that’s the way it is.

“Everyone wants to be in the national team, it’s not just me.

“It’s part of the game, but it will come one day.”

Schneiderlin, who has represented France all the way up to under-21 level, will surely have given his national team manager, Didier Deschamps, something to think about with his performances since Saints returned to the Premier League just over a year ago.

The 23-year-old won every single player-of-the-year award going at St Mary’s last season, and he is a lynchpin of the side that has climbed to fourth place in the table this term.

Schneiderlin has not received any indication from the France set-up about how close to consideration he is, but a repeat – or even an improvement – on what he did during the last campaign would surely make him tough to ignore.

Time, of course, is running out for the Saints ace to force his way into the reckoning before next summer’s World Cup.

France’s place at the tournament is not yet confirmed and, with Spain almost certain to top their qualifying group, Les Bleus are likely to face a play-off to earn their ticket to Brazil.

Assuming they do advance, Schneiderlin knows he faces an uphill battle to break into the squad before the competition begins.

He still retains hope that it might be possible, though.

“I don’t know, there’s not many games,” he said. “France, they play a very important game next month to get that play-off to get to the World Cup, and after that I think it is going to be very hard, to be honest.

“But who knows?

“If Southampton are still doing very well and we’re still keeping in the top four to Christmas, who knows, maybe he’s going to give me a chance to see what I can do and then I have to step up.

“But, at the moment, I feel it’s going to be very hard. There’s many, many good players (in my position).”

Having moved from Strasbourg in 2008 to join Saints, when he was just 18, and with the club enduring some dark times during his first few years with the club, it has taken time for Schneiderlin’s name to appear on the radar at the very top level.

Now it is there, though, he is hoping he can remind those in his homeland of the qualities he has to offer.

“I left France very soon,” said Schneiderlin. “The national team knew me in the under-21s, but people in France they don’t really know me as they do in England, so it’s a bit harder for me.

“But that is how it is. I have no regrets.

“There’s just many, many players. I just need to wait for my chance one day.”

If he keeps improving the way he has been, Schneiderlin’s day will surely arrive sooner rather than later.