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Feb 27, 2014

Hodgson selections unpopular with Hull faithful

And so an interminable wait for a first cap drags on for Curtis Davies. Roy Hodgson's 30-man England squad to face Denmark next week again found no place for Hull City's in-form defender and, along with team-mates Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, he can now begin planning his summer holidays without fear of a late call for Brazil. The dream, no matter how faint it began, is surely over.

A penny for Davies' thoughts following Thursday's all-too-predictable squad announcement. At 28, he is a centre-half at the peak of his powers. By his own reckoning, he has never played better. Yet still he cannot barge his way back onto the international stage he last reached in 2008.

Hodgson has effectively suggested he will not give Davies a second's thought between now and announcing a provisional World Cup squad on May 13. He has four central defenders in mind -- Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling -- and if one falls down then Steven Caulker will be the beneficiary.

That stark reality must really stick in Davies' throat. He can no doubt live with the fact he is queuing behind four established Premier League defenders, a quartet that helped earn qualification for Brazil, but Caulker's inclusion in the latest squad must inevitably hurt.

- Report: Shaw gets first England call

Without having watched the Cardiff City defender all season, it is hard to envisage he is possibly enjoying a campaign better than that of Davies. The relegation-haunted Bluebirds have conceded 17 more goals than City this season and the ever-present Caulker was embarrassingly wayward in a 4-0 loss to the Tigers last weekend. Davies, meanwhile, has let himself down just once in 26 Premier League games. When? A 4-1 loss to Southampton in November with Hodgson watching from the stands.

Omitting Davies on the basis of one poor performance would be a sad reflection on the Football Association's scouting programme. The Londoner has consistently been City's star performer this season and is a far better player than the one called up by England during the Fabio Capello days of 2008.

A debut eluded Davies then and it continues to do so now. After falling upon hard times at Aston Villa and spending two seasons in the Championship with Birmingham, he has worked his way back up to and beyond the levels that once made him one of England's most highly-rated young players. He deserves an England chance now more than ever before.

Huddlestone is another one that can be confused by Hodgson's rationale. The out-of-form Tom Cleverley's inclusion invited supporters' scorn up and down the country and leaves the England set-up open to the criticism that they favour players from the elite clubs. Huddlestone has eclipsed Cleverley all season. Surely that is a fact and not an opinion.

Just like Davies and Huddlestone, City fans must wait for England honours. The club is still to boast a senior England international to call their own during 110 years of existence and a call-up to next week’s squad would have capped an outstanding week in the big time.

The resounding win at Cardiff was followed up by Monday night's FA Cup fifth round replay victory over Brighton to leave success on two fronts edging closer and closer. In a season that was only supposed to be about Premier League survival, City are now just 90 minutes from a trip to Wembley in the last four of the FA Cup.

If cup runs can occasionally happen by accident, this is one such instance. The wins over Middlesbrough and Southend in rounds three and four came with nine changes in both games and only when things got interesting with a quarter-final draw at home to Sunderland did manager Steve Bruce start to roll out his heavy artillery.

At the second time of asking it proved too much for Championship side Brighton and City are now staring up at Wembley’s famous arch. As a club that has only ever once been before, beating Bristol City in the 2008 Championship play-off final, the carrot is dangling prominently in their eye-line.

The challenge of reaching the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1930 must wait another week, though. Newcastle United's visit to the KC Stadium this weekend offers another chance to cement their footing in mid-table and a third win in eight days would bring their healthiest ever advantage over the bottom three.

But for the England omissions of Davies and Huddlestone, life is sweet in East Yorkshire at present. Beat a couple of visitors from the north-east in the next week or so, however, and things will only get better.