Sunderland winger Adam Johnson has warned his fellow England hopefuls they have little chance of playing for their country if they are not at a top-eight club.
The 26-year-old midfielder, who has 12 senior caps, was tipped to make it into Roy Hodgson's squad for the friendly with Denmark earlier this month after embarking on a blistering run of form for his club.
However, he did not make it and that, he believes, has sealed the fate of his World Cup dreams despite the absence of Arsenal's Theo Walcott through injury.
Johnson told the Journal: "I think a lot of people saw me as almost a certainty [for the Denmark squad], but if you look at the last squad it, was almost all top-eight [players] bar [Cardiff defender Steven] Caulker.
"I think that says a lot about the selection. I don't think it really matters how well you are playing - it's who you play for.
"If you look at the last 10 squads, Southampton have been playing well, they are in the top eight - and the rest are Everton, Tottenham, Man United, City, clubs like that."
Southampton climbed into the Premier League's top eight at the weekend, helping to illustrate Johnson's point.
Of the 30 men named by Hodgson for the Denmark game, 25 of them play for clubs among that group.
Indeed, Johnson fears he now has less chance of being selected as a regular at the Stadium of Light than he did while he was warming the bench at former club Manchester City.
He said: "I came to Sunderland to play more, rather than thinking about England, but some games I wasn't even on the bench at City but I was still in the England squad.
"Now I'm playing more and I can't get a cap. It's just a fact - it's not me being sour. Some players, if they weren't playing for the big clubs, wouldn't be anywhere near it [the squad]."