England manager Roy Hodgson would want further discussions about Rio Ferdinand's fitness before even considering whether to offer him an international return.
Hodgson selected Ferdinand in his initial squad for the World Cup double-header against San Marino and Montenegro, only for the defender to withdraw, citing an "intricate" and "pre-planned" training programme.
England's travelling fans vented their disgust during both matches.
However, the absence of a ball-playing central defender is evidently an issue on the international stage, even if Hodgson publicly will not accept it.
With friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil to play after the domestic season is done, it remains possible Ferdinand could get the chance to add to his 81 caps.
The situation is by no means certain though.
"If he is going to play in the future there will have to be further discussions, not least about his fitness programme and his club," said Hodgson.
"But I have absolutely nothing to add to what I said when his name came up before and I have no interest in discussing someone who isn't here."
Neither centre-back is a regular at club level, with Lescott down the pecking order at Manchester City and Smalling used more often at right-back by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Both were decent last night, even if they struggled to contain Montenegro during a difficult second half when they were left exposed by a lack of midfield cover.
However, Hodgson did not feel there was enough room for criticism to generate further debate around Ferdinand.
"The two centre-backs did very well," said the England boss.
"Smalling was excellent and Joleon Lescott did a very good job as well.
"I would have thought if there are two players who deserve to come out of this game with credit rather than any negativity it is the two centre-backs.
"Certainly it would be extremely unfair to suggest it was the performance of Smalling and Lescott which culminated in us drawing the game rather than winning it."