SWP: England snub kicked me into shape
A rejuvenated Shaun Wright-Phillips feels being dropped from the England squad helped ''kick'' him back into regaining top form - and an international recall.
The winger - who in August returned to Manchester City in a £8.5million deal from Chelsea - was included in Fabio Capello's plans for his first match in charge against Switzerland at Wembley in February.
However, despite coming off the bench and scoring a goal in the 2-1 victory, the 26-year-old found himself out in the cold again when the squads were named for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia.
Since then Wright-Phillips has produced a string of decent displays back with City - which resulted in him being chosen ahead of David Bentley by the Italian coach for the latest round of international games, with Kazakhstan and then Belarus next week.
''I am very pleased to be back in the England squad given my form, because now I feel 100% match fit,'' said Wright-Phillips, who had scored on his England debut as a substitute against Ukraine back in August 2004.
''I was disappointed not to have been picked after Mr Capello's first game - but I respected the boss for it and it did some good as it helped kick me into shape because I knew then I had to perform, to get better and better.
''There is a challenge in whatever job you do, and that challenge will always benefit the person. I did not think my England career was too far gone to worry about resurrection. I am just glad to be back here with the team again.
''I am delighted with my club form and I just need to carry it on to the training with England and then put myself in a position to get another call.''
Wright-Phillips, who has 19 caps to date, added: ''Everyone now knows what the boss wants and the way he wants things done. He likes everyone to be 100% fit, to play well and do their job. As long as everyone does those things and can play the way we have been doing, then I do not think there will be a problem.''
Wright-Phillips - who had left City for Stamford Bridge in a £21million deal three seasons ago - maintains his game is better for his spell in west London, even if that did not amount to as many minutes of live action as he would have liked.
He continued: ''I feel my time at Chelsea helped improve me both on and off the pitch. I played with a lot of world-class players there, and under a few managers who all had something different to teach me. I have learned to be a lot wiser on the pitch in different situations and circumstances. Now I just need to put it all into a way where I am able to play consistently.''
Wright-Phillips added: ''I still think I am seen as a winger, but it is nice to be able to play in different positions and to do the best you can.''
England recorded a 4-1 victory in Croatia last month, when Arsenal's Theo Walcott - now first-choice on the right of midfield - netted a memorable hat-trick.
However, there will be no element of complacency within the squad for the next set of fixtures on the road to South Africa 2010, when England will be expected to take maximum points and with a convincing performance.
Wright-Phillips added: ''Even though I was not there, I was dead happy for the boys. They did a lot of players who were not there proud and also the fans. However, there is still a lot of hard work to be done yet and everyone needs to keep their feet firmly on the ground, to try to just win the games which are coming up.''