There will be few good players left uncapped in the modern age. The proliferation of substitutions ensures that anyone who has a half-decent season (except, it seems, Mark Noble) gets a cap now.
It was not always the case. Until 1969 England substitutes were rare, and only for injuries. Thus Terry Dyson, Geoff Strong and Jimmy Adamson had fewer chances to get a cap.
Even two decades later a brace of subs was the norm, not the five who wander on with every modern friendly. Even so, it is perplexing that some of these players were overlooked. Some were just unlucky.
Billy Bonds was in line to make his debut but was injured. Case was the only Liverpool midfielder not called up when Ron Greenwood played seven of his team-mates. That, said Liverpool manager Bob Paisley later was why the experiment failed.
John Lukic played when there was strong competition to be England goalkeeper, Jimmy Greenhoff was the sort of stylish player neither Alf Ramsey or Don Revie seemed to trust, Dennis Mortimer’s peak co-incided with the pomp of Bryan Robson and his international understudy, Terry McDermott.
Steve Bruce lacked pace, but could play as well as defend and Bobby Robson later admitted he should have capped him. Howard Kendall simply shone at the wrong time. Ramsey wanted a holding midfielder to complement World Cup winners Bobby Charlton, Alan Ball and Martin Peters.
“Your job is to win the ball and give it to Bobby Charlton,” he once told off Alan Mullery after the Spurs player had beaten a couple of opponents and set up a chance for Geoff Hurst. Initially this was Nobby Stiles, then Mullery, then, more contentiously, Peter Storey. Kendall was a better footballer than Stiles and Storey, and arguably Mullery, but as Jimmy Greaves found in 1966, Ramsey picked a team, not the best XI players.
And the three best uncapped players in the Premier League today
1 Mark Noble (West Ham and not capped by England)
2 Mikel Arteta (Arsenal and not capped by Spain)
3 Sylvain Distin (Everton and not capped by France)Reuse content