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Called-up but uncapped: the England players that missed out, 1994-2014

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Dominic Matteo missed out on an England cap despite being called up three times, and as a result switched to representing Scotland

The fantastic National Football Teams website is a goldmine of international football information, which lists appearance data for every player to play for a nation in a particular year, in some cases going back over a century. However, one slightly disappointing aspect is that it does only cover those players who start, and not those who are called up to a squad but do not play.

Over the last two decades, England have used a lot of players, with experimentation allowing fairly unremarkable players like Steve Guppy, Gavin McCann, Chris Powell and David Nugent to pick up the odd cap and become the answers to obscure pub trivia questions. But there is also a group of players who managed to be called up to the England squad that never got a chance on the pitch. After scouring England websites, here are those unfortunate players (that I know of) from the last twenty years – this page was particularly helpful for squads from the Keegan era on:

Mark Draper – 1996
Aston Villa midfielder Draper was surprisingly called up to Glenn Hoddle’s first England squad for the 1998 World Cup qualifier in Moldova, and sat on the bench for the game. He was not called up again.

Dominic Matteo – 1996-98
One of the more interesting examples. The Liverpool centre-back, who made three appearances for England’s under-21s, was first called up to the senior squad for the 1998 World Cup qualifier against Poland in 1996, but didn’t make the bench. He was called up for the friendly against Mexico the following year but withdrew due to injury, before his final call-up in March 1998 for the friendly with Switzerland, when he was an unused substitute. He also picked up an England B cap against Chile in February 1998. After falling out of favour under Kevin Keegan, he switched allegiance to Scotland, the country of his birth. He won six caps, the first coming against Australia in 2000 and the last coming against France in 2002, after which he retired from international duty in an attempt to prolong his club career.

David May – 1997
Best known as a bit-part player in Manchester United’s Treble-winning side of 1998-99, two years previously May had been a regular in the United starting line-up, and his form won a call-up to the England squad for the March 1997 friendly against Mexico, but was an unused substitute. However, injuries blighted his career and this was the only time he was called up.


David May had plenty of medals to show for his career but no England cap

Darren Eadie – 1997
One of the many supposed solutions to England’s left side of midfield problem, injury-plagued Norwich winger Eadie was initially called up into Le Tournoi squad, replacing Paul Merson, but he was forced to pull out after picking up an injury in training. Further injuries also denied him England B appearances after that, and eventually led to a premature retirement in 2003 at the age of 28.

Lee Clark – 1997
Newcastle midfielder Clark, now manager of Birmingham City, was included in the squad for Le Tournoi de France in June 1997, which also saw a recall for John Scales (whose only caps came in 1995 during the Umbro Cup). He did not appear in the tournament, which England won, and moved to Sunderland in Division One for 1997-98, effectively ending any further hopes of a call-up. He had previously won eleven under-21 caps.

Shaka Hislop – 1998
Though he had struggled to establish himself as Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper, Hislop was seemingly making the position his own in February 1998, and was rewarded with an England call-up for the friendly against Chile, where he sat on the bench behind Nigel Martyn. However, shortly after this, he picked up an injury and lost his place in the team to Shay Given, though he did make an England under-21 appearance against Switzerland in March 1998 as an overage player. A move to West Ham failed to resurrect his England career, and in 1999, he switched to Trinidad and Tobago. He played against England during the 2006 World Cup, coming within seven minutes of keeping a clean sheet.

Chris Armstrong – 1999
Tottenham striker Armstrong had made an England B appearance back in 1994 against Northern Ireland, but made a surprise re-appearance in the national fold in Kevin Keegan’s first England squad for the Euro 2000 qualifier against Poland after Michael Owen and Chris Sutton withdrew due to injury. But on the day that club colleague Tim Sherwood finally made his England debut, Armstrong remained an unused sub and was not called up again.

Steve Froggatt – 1999-2000
Coventry winger/wing-back Froggatt, who won two caps for the under-21s in the early 1990s, was briefly considered to be one of the potential solutions to England’s left-side problem. He was first called up to the squad for the Euro 2000 play-off against Scotland, sitting on the bench, and again for the friendly against Argentina in February 2000. However, eleven days before the friendly, he suffered a serious ankle injury after a horror tackle from Sunderland’s Nicky Summerbee. Having already suffered from injuries in the past, this would prove too much to fully recover from and he retired at the end of the 2000-01 season.


Steve Froggatt was on the verge of an England breakthrough before injury ended his career

Matt Jansen – 2002
Sven-Goran Eriksson liked to experiment, but usually that meant his odd selections got a cap or two – see Gavin McCann, David Dunn, Michael Ricketts and Chris Powell. One who didn’t, though, was Blackburn striker Jansen. With a dearth of in-form strikers at the time, he was surprisingly called up for a friendly against Paraguay in April 2002, but was forced to drop out of the squad due to a stomach bug. But for that, he would have started the game and picked up a cap. A motorcycle accident that summer left him with serious injuries and his career sadly declined from there.

David Thompson – 2002
Former Liverpool and Coventry midfielder Thompson was called up for the first Euro 2004 qualifiers against Slovakia and Macedonia shortly after joining Blackburn, though he failed to make the bench for either match. Any chance of further call-ups disappeared due to the injury problems that would blight the rest of his career.

Sean Davis – 2003
England’s infamous friendly defeat against Australia in February 2003 saw debuts for James Beattie, Paul Robinson, Paul Konchesky, Jermaine Jenas, Francis Jeffers and some kid called Rooney. But Fulham midfielder Davis was sat on the bench the whole time and did not make it onto the pitch. It would be his only call-up, another victim of injuries.

Jlloyd Samuel – 2004
The March 2004 friendly with Sweden allowed Sven to cap Celtic’s Alan Thompson and Tottenham duo Anthony Gardner and Jermain Defoe for the first time, but he opted not to bring on Aston Villa left-back Samuel, then enjoying good form for his club. But he gradually fell down the left-back pecking order and eventually chose to switch to Trinidad and Tobago, making his first of two appearances for the Soca Warriors in 2009. He currently plays in Iran.

Nigel Reo-Coker – 2006
A veteran of the under-21 team with 23 appearances, then-West Ham midfielder Reo-Coker’s only senior squad call-up (of sorts) came in 2006, when he was initially named as the stand-by midfielder for the World Cup squad. However, he withdrew shortly after due to injury.


Nigel Reo-Coker missed out on the chance to step up from under-21s to the senior squad

Steven Taylor – 2007-13
Newcastle defender Taylor would make a total of 29 appearances for England under-21s and one for England B, but despite two call-ups six years apart, he is yet to play for the senior team. The first came for a friendly against Germany in August 2007, while the second came for qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro in March 2013 after Gary Cahill, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Dawson all withdrew from the squad. Just ten league appearances last season has seen him fade into the background but at 28, he still has time to get that elusive cap.

Curtis Davies – 2008
A player some were touting as a contender for a 2014 World Cup squad call-up, Davies remains uncapped despite Fabio Capello selecting him twice in 2008, initially in the provisional squad for his first friendly in charge against Switzerland, and again in the full squad later that year for the friendly against Germany.

David Wheater – 2008
After a fallow period for uncapped wonders in the McClaren era, Capello resurrected the phenomenon early in his reign. The second of the period was Middlesbrough defender Wheater, who made the provisional squad for the friendly against France in March 2008, only to be cut from it two days later when the squad was trimmed to 23 players. He then made the full squad for the friendlies against the USA and Trinidad and Tobago two months later. His last involvement with the senior squad was for the qualifier against Belarus in October, where he was drafted in as cover after John Terry withdrew due to injury.

Joe Lewis – 2008
The revolving door of third-choice goalkeepers was a feature of Capello’s reign. Peterborough keeper Lewis, then a member of the under-21 side, was added to the squad for the USA and Trinidad and Tobago friendlies after Chris Kirkland withdrew due to injury. However, his career has since ground to a halt, and he currently sits behind David Marshall in the pecking order at Cardiff City.

Jimmy Bullard – 2008
Mercurial midfielder Bullard, who at one point was touted (mainly by himself) as a future German international (through ancestry), received his first England call-up in the summer of 2008 for the qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia. A second call-up came for the November friendly against Germany, but he was again unused. By this point he had turned 30, and a knee injury in 2009 and his notoriously wild lifestyle precluded any further squad appearances.


The talented but controversial Jimmy Bullard made two England squads

Michael Mancienne – 2008
Defender Mancienne was on loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers and in good form when he was surprisingly called up to the squad for the friendly against Germany, but so far it is the only time he has been selected. However, at 26, the Hamburg defender may yet find his way back into the fold.

Scott Loach – 2010
With a number of goalkeepers unavailable, and Paul Robinson announcing his retirement from international football, Watford keeper Loach, who had taken over from Joe Hart as the first choice England under-21 keeper, received his first call-up to the senior squad for the friendly against Hungary in August 2010. Further call-ups came in September for qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland after Scott Carson suffered a family bereavement, and in November for the friendly with France. But with his form drifting and a move to boyhood club Ipswich Town ending in disappointing fashion, he is now on the margins and has just moved to newly-promoted Championship side Rotherham United in a bid to revitalise his career.

Frank Fielding – 2010-11
Fielding’s call-up for the Hungary friendly in the summer of 2010 demonstrated the dearth of English goalkeeping talent available at the time, as the Blackburn keeper had spent the end of the season on loan at League Two club Rochdale. By the time he was called up again, a year later for the qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales, he had at least established himself in the Championship with Derby. However, like Loach, his career has stumbled since this, finishing last season at League One club Bristol City.

Karl Henry – 2011
Wolves captain at the time, 28-year-old Henry was selected in the 40-man squad for the friendly against Denmark in February 2011. However, the tough-tackling midfielder, selected a time when there was a dearth of his type of player around, did not make the final 26-man squad. He had earlier been approached to play for Jamaica by John Barnes in 2008 but refused, and has not played internationally since.

David Stockdale – 2011
It is perhaps surprising that Stockdale is yet to pick up his first cap, as he was part of six England squads in 2011, the first being for the friendly against Denmark, and the last being for the friendlies against Spain and Sweden. Since then, the rise of John Ruddy and Fraser Forster and the return of Ben Foster has sent him down the pecking order.

Jack Colback – 2014
Newcastle’s ginger-haired utility man was a surprise call-up to the first post-World Cup squad for matches in September against Norway and Switzerland, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. Time is on his side but he does seem to fit in the ranks of uncapped call-ups quite nicely.

Saido Berahino – 2014
Born in Burundi (and theoretically still eligible for them), West Brom striker Berahino was called up to the senior squad for the first time in November 2014 for games against Slovenia and Scotland by his former club manager Hodgson after a stellar start to the season. However, he has since slipped behind Harry Kane in the pecking order so he may have to wait for that first cap.

Post-2014 Examples
Charlie Austin – 2015
Michail Antonio – 2016
Ben Gibson – 2017

England B

Darren Huckerby made an England B appearance against Chile in 1998

Since 1994, there have been six England B internationals: under Terry Venables, they played Northern Ireland B in May 1994 and Republic of Ireland B in December 1994; under Glenn Hoddle (albeit under the management of Peter Taylor), they played Chile B in February 1998 and Russia B in April 1998; under Sven-Goran Eriksson, they played Belarus B in May 2006; and under Steve McClaren, they played Albania in May 2007. The following players made appearances for England B without appearing for the senior squad:

Kevin Pressman – NIRB, ROIB, CHIB
Richard Edghill – NIRB
John Beresford – NIRB
Ruel Fox* – NIRB, ROIB
Nicky Summerbee – NIRB
Chris Bart-Williams – NIRB
Alan Stubbs – NIRB
Dean Holdsworth – NIRB
Chris Armstrong – NIRB
Riccardo Scimeca – CHIB
Dominic Matteo* – CHIB
Marcus Hall – CHIB
Darren Huckerby – CHIB
Nigel Quashie* – CHIB
Paul Murray – CHIB
Steve Watson – RUSB
John Curtis – RUSB
Carl Serrant – RUSB
Darren Williams – RUSB
Wayne Quinn – RUSB
David Johnson* – RUSB
Steven Taylor – ALB

* – played a full international match for another country

Update 26/08/2014: Added Eadie and Jansen
Update 03/09/2014: Added Colback
Update 25/03/2015: Added Rose and Berahino
Update 25/03/2016: Added Austin, Lingard and Heaton
Update 25/04/2016: Added Henry; removed Rose
Update 28/05/2016: Removed Heaton

Images used in the spirit of fair use – if you know of any other players called up by England in this period that were never capped, please post in the comments section below

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Written by James Bennett

June 24, 2014 at 16:11

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