He was Fabio Capello's third-choice centre-back in qualification for the World Cup but, having fallen behind first Ledley King and now Jamie Carragher in the pecking order, Matthew Upson said yesterday he still believed he could win a place in the England team to play Algeria on Friday.
The West Ham defender, 29, has lost the most from Capello's decision to talk Carragher out of international retirement and call up King to the World Cup squad, despite the Tottenham Hotspur captain being unable to play any part in the 10 qualifying games. Although King was injured in England's first group game against the United States on Saturday, and is unlikely to play any further part in the tournament, it was Carragher who replaced him at half-time.
Upson said: "On a personal level, I want to play. But it's the manager's decision. He will do what's best for the team. Ultimately, that's why we're here. We're here to win something as a group, so you have to put aside your personal [ambition]. You have to be a collective. I'm willing to accept his decision, as normal, and I'll be ready when called upon.
"It's not really down to me [on the issue of Carragher coming back]. Whatever he decides to do is his business. It's completely outside my control, and my focus is me and how ready I can be. As long as I'm ready, I've done my job."
The West Ham defender started nine games for Capello but has not done so since King and Carragher came back into the squad. Upson said: "I feel very happy with my international contribution under Fabio Capello. That's why I'm here with the squad. It was an objective achieved for me to be here. While I'm here I want to play as much as I can, and the manager will dictate that. It's his decision."
He was even prepared to joke that he might benefit from a race between England's remaining fit centre-backs to establish who is the quickest. "That might help me," Upson said. "I'm deceptive – I might not look as if I'm that quick, but I can cover the ground. Pace is a big part of modern football.
"Jamie [Carragher] will be playing against quick players every week in the Premier League. It's nothing unusual for him to be facing up to players like Jozy Altidore, who was playing for Hull, so everyone's equipped to dealing with it in his own way. We've got top-class, quality players and everyone is capable of coping with it in his own way," Upson added.
The defensive options
Terry and Carragher
Experience in abundance but seriously lacking in pace. Carragher is right sided, so compliments Terry, who prefers the left, but neither are expert distributors. Both good readers of the game but both rely heavily on last-ditch tackles.
Terry and Dawson
Never played together. Right-sided Dawson is the form player but still uncapped. Good aerially and quickest of the remaining centre-halves.
Terry and Upson
Most playing time together for England, and arguably the best balanced in terms of style. Upson drops off, Terry attacks the ball. But Upson had an average season and is prone to lapses.