• Outstanding form not good enough for a recall
• Midfielder sets his sights on personal double
Learning he was not about to become the first footballer to play for England while representing Hull City did not surprise Tom Huddlestone on Thursday. England may have a serious problem with ball retention, and City's manager, Steve Bruce, is not alone in believing the former Spurs midfielder to be the best passer in the Premier League, English or otherwise, but the player admits he was not expecting his outstanding early-season form to result in an immediate opportunity to add to his four international caps.
"No, not really, I know that central midfield is probably the strongest part of the squad so I'm under no illusions it is going to be difficult for me to get back in," he says. "The way I see it, England would be an added bonus to us staying in the Premier League."
That it appears to be an achievable double says much about the impact Huddlestone has made since his move from London to East Yorkshire. Having made approaching 30 appearances for Spurs last season, albeit a fair number as a substitute, he seemed to be one of the relatively few English players trusted by André Villas-Boas. So is he still a little surprised to find himself at such a different club?
"Well, I maybe started 11 or 12 games in the middle of the season, but the start of the season was frustrating, and the period from Christmas to the middle of April as well. I didn't have that much dialogue with the manager regarding what would be happening this season, I just knew there was a couple of clubs interested and when Tottenham accepted bids it was clear what their thoughts were on the situation.
"I still had a couple of years left on my contract, so it would have been easier to sit there and play maybe every fifth or sixth game, with the amount of competitions they were involved in, but I wanted to play regularly.
"Every player will tell you if you have confidence it adds an extra 20-25% to your game, and if you have that confidence that your manager believes in you, you are going to go out there and work hard to prove he was right to bring you in and play you regularly."
A reminder that Paolo Di Canio wanted Huddlestone to join his revolution at Sunderland prompts a wry smile. "Comparing the two squads, they'd signed 12 or 13 players and not many had played in the Premier League before, and obviously that was going to make things difficult, as well as them having to adapt to a new country.
"Here the manager had a fairly settled squad, and I knew a few of the players he intended to bring in, like Curtis Davies, Jake Livermore and Allan McGregor. It was a fairly British squad with players who had played in the Premier League."
That the number of British players having to move from a so-called big club in order to play regularly is an issue for the game in this country appears obvious. If the national team is to be competitive, the manager needs individuals like Huddlestone, who has played for England at every level, to be playing in European competitions. But the four English clubs playing in the Champions League this week fielded 10 English players between them, while Bayern Munich fielded six German players who had come through their system.
"I know what you're saying. In England we tend to throw a player in at 16 or 17 and expect him to play 40 games a season and just deal with everything else, whereas in Spain and Germany they seem to gradually feed them in, so they might be in the squad for a month, then out of the squad for a month, and it benefits them in the long run," said Huddlestone, who should know, having played 95 league games for Derby County before moving to Spurs while still a teenager.
"But at 26 I need to play regularly, and Hull are giving me that chance. And I mean play, because we don't just lump the ball forward, and the squad is better than people give it credit for. At the last international break, 11 or 12 disappeared and I was one of the few left at training."
The same will be true next week, which seems rather ridiculous. A few more performances of the quality Huddlestone is currently providing, however, and Hull's long wait for a current England international will surely be ended.