Raheem Sterling today looked set to miss out on a place in the England squad for their World Cup double-header against San Marino and Poland after being handed his maiden call-up to the Under-21s.
Liverpool winger Sterling, 17, was a shock late addition to the senior party for last month's Group H draw with Ukraine and was being tipped to be selected again for the October 12 clash with San Marino and trip to Poland four days later.
Instead, he has been added to the under-21 squad for their two-legged European Championship play-off against Serbia on the same dates.
Young Lions boss Stuart Pearce considered calling up Sterling for last month's final Group Eight qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Norway but was convinced to leave him with the under-19s by Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.
Sterling, who has made eight appearances for the Reds this season, was joined today in a 26-man under-21 squad by fellow newcomers Nick Powell and Andros Townsend ahead of the first leg of their play-off at Norwich's Carrow Road.
Manchester United youngster Powell hit the headlines last month when he scored on his Barclays Premier League debut against Wigan following his summer move from Crewe, while fellow midfielder Townsend was rewarded for his performances for Tottenham this season.
Pearce said: "For Raheem, to have an insight into the senior team, is fantastic.
"He's been in our development squads and has done extremely well for Liverpool, and credit to Brendan, who has given him his chance. We are pleased to have him.
"Andros Townsend has also done well and has been around Tottenham's first-team squad consistently this year.
"Nick Powell got his move from Crewe, to a massive club at United, and has made his first team bow. He has a really bright future.
"I'm really looking forward to bringing them into the squad to give us a lift. They couldn't come in at a more crucial time.
"Roy [Hodgson] and I have had a long conversation, last night being the last time, and he is more than aware of the under-21s' key players. What's certain is the players are at the centre of the decisions both Roy and I make."
Pearce selected Jack Butland - despite the goalkeeper having been a regular in the senior party under Hodgson - emphasising the importance of the do-or-die Serbia matches.
Manchester City's Jack Rodwell and Nottingham Forest's Henri Lansbury were also called up having returned from injury, while there was a recall for Liverpool's Andre Wisdom, who last featured more than a year ago, but made his first-team debut for his club a fortnight ago.
Pearce added: "We have to put as strong a squad as possible out.
"If you don't do that at this stage of the competition, then you can make life very difficult for yourself.
"In the side for our play-off against Romania two years ago, we had nine players who have all gone on to play for the senior team."
Squad: Ben Amos (Manchester United), Jack Butland (Birmingham), Declan Rudd (Norwich), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough); Ryan Bennett (Norwich), Steven Caulker (Tottenham), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Craig Dawson (West Brom), Tom Lees (Leeds), Jack Rodwell (Manchester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Adam Smith (Tottenham), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool); Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Tom Ince (Blackpool), Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Jason Lowe (Blackburn), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Nick Powell (Manchester United), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace); Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Connor Wickham (Sunderland).