ROY HODGSON insists there is still time for Adam Johnson to thrust himself into World Cup contention despite the Sunderland winger missing out on a place in the England squad for next week's friendly with Denmark.
While Sunderland-born Jordan Henderson was named in Hodgson's 30-man party for Wednesday's game at Wembley, Johnson was overlooked despite his fine form in a Black Cats shirt since the turn of the year.
With next week's game representing England's only outing before Hodgson has to name his provisional 30-man squad for this summer's World Cup finals, Johnson's chances of being involved in Brazil appear slight.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana all appear to be ahead of him in the pecking order for wingers, with Danny Welbeck and James Milner also members of next week's squad who can play in a wide position.
Hodgson travelled to the Stadium of Light to watch Johnson in person this month, only for his trip to prove in vain when Wes Brown's early dismissal forced a tactical reshuffle that saw Gustavo Poyet completely reorganise his midfield.
Yesterday's squad selection, which also saw Hodgson fail to select another North-Easterner, Andy Carroll, would appear to signal the end of Johnson's World Cup hopes.
The 26-year-old has not been involved in the international set-up since he was an unused substituite against Poland in 2012.
But with two-and-a-half months of the domestic season still to go, Hodgson claims that there is still time for a last-minute rethink.
“It would be very foolish of me in March to give a definitive 30-man squad (for the World Cup),” said the England boss. “This is the squad I have chosen for now.
“Andy Carroll has hardly played, and Adam Johnson is a player we know. Because of the competition, we have decided not to include him in this squad.”
While Johnson is firmly on the periphery of England's plans, Henderson could yet find himself an integral part of Hodgson's World Cup thinking.
The Liverpool midfielder, who earned a late call-up to the England squad for the 2012 European Championships, has been in fine form this season, and is expected to feature against Denmark next week.
He is much more deserving of a place in the squad than Manchester United duo Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley, and could well find himself battling with Everton's Ross Barkley for a place in Hodgson's final 23-man party for the World Cup finals.