Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe cannot understand why Jack Wilshere was left out of the England squad by new boss Gareth Southgate.
Midfielder Wilshere, who is on a season loan from Arsenal, was not included in the 26-man line-up to face Germany and Lithuania, while West Brom’s Jake Livermore was handed an unexpected call-up.
Howe feels the way the 25-year-old has gone about producing consistent displays in the Premier League this season has answered some of his critics over fitness issues, and believes Wilshere would have proven a valuable addition for the Three Lions.
“It is very difficult to put any other hat on than the Bournemouth hat, so am I surprised? Yes, because of the quality of the player Jack is, but I am not looking at the (England) squad in terms of who else there is to pick from,” Howe said at a press conference.
“I have been very consistent (with my thoughts) throughout the season. I think Jack has performed really well for us.
“The only question mark hanging over him before coming here was his ability to play consecutive games to keep fit, and I think he has done that.
“I still feel there is a lot more to come as he continues to get back to his very highest levels, so we have been very pleased with him.”
Wilshere came off the bench to make a telling impact as he helped set up a late winning goal for Josh King against West Ham.
Howe added: “Of course, it goes without saying (he is a crucial player for Bournemouth).
“Jack showed last week just how important he is to us because he came on and played an absolute pivotal role in the third goal for us.
“It was a great goal for us to score in the manner it came about and the way it was executed, and Jack showed his quality in that moment.”
Bournemouth’s win over West Ham was a first of 2017 in the Premier League and gave them a bit more breathing space ahead of the battle for survival below.
Howe, though, knows the importance of not letting that hard work go to waste when they host Swansea for Saturday’s late kick-off, with the Welsh club only three points behind in 16th.
“We are confident and we believe in ourselves. The players demonstrated last week the quality we have here,” said the Bournemouth manager, who will again be missing defender Tyrone Mings as he serves out a five-match suspension for stamping on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“We still have the ability to score goals, which is really crucial at any stage of the season, let alone when you are coming into the final few games, so we believe in each other.
“We enjoyed last week to get that winning feeling back again after so long. Everybody at the club needed it and it backed up the good result we had got at Old Trafford.
“With so few games to go every game takes on more importance as the season unfolds, so on the back of last weekend’s win, we are very keen to keep up that momentum.”
Howe added: “Swansea are compact, organised, hard to beat and their (recent) results have shown that.
“Paul Clement has come in with a distinctive style and a tactical shape that he has wanted to implement.
“It seems to have suited the players, so it has made a big impact in terms of how they play. The players look more galvanised by that and more confident now.”