Jack Wilshere's loan move to Bournemouth pays off with England recall
Jack Wilshere's decision to join Bournemouth on loan has been vindicated after the midfielder was handed an England recall for the Wembley dates against Scotland and Spain.
The 24-year-old was a conspicuous absentee from England's two get-togethers since Euro 2016, dumped first by the departed Sam Allardyce and then by his interim replacement Gareth Southgate.
But, having taken the hard decision to leave Arsenal for a less glamorous life at the Vitality Stadium, he has rebuilt both form and fitness sufficiently to win over Southgate.
Having gone almost two years without completing a top-flight match he has now played every minute of the Cherries' last three games and returns in an expanded 25-man squad.
His case was helped by a knee injury to Dele Alli, whose Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane is also back after making a goalscoring return from ankle trouble in Sunday's north London derby.
Reflecting on the returning pair, Southgate told FATV: "Of course Jack Wilshere is a player that we feel has a lot of class and is now starting to get more 90-minutes under his belt. It's a good moment to bring him back into the squad.
"It's been important for him to get some regular football for Bournemouth and I've watched him a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. We know the quality he possesses and it's good for him to know we have that belief in him and that we want him in the squad.
"Tottenham have been very helpful in terms of Harry's availability. I'm grateful to Mauricio [Pochettino, Spurs boss] for that.
"Harry's a proven goalscorer at every level. Obviously he's at an early stage of coming back from quite a long injury but we saw today the desire he has and the knack of being in the right place at the right time."
Southgate's four-game stint at the helm is due to end after Friday's World Cup qualifier against the Scots and the prestige friendly that follows four days later, meaning this could be his final time in charge of the national squad.
But the bookmakers make him favourite to continue in a permanent capacity and good results at HQ in the coming days would help him build a compelling case.
While Alli's absence, as well as those of Manchester United pair Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw, means he is not at full strength, there has been plenty of good fitness news too.
Liverpool pair Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, fresh from helping the Reds to the top of the Premier League table, are fit again after missing last month's qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia, as is Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater.
Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling withdrew from those matches after initially being named but he was rested by his club at the weekend and is primed for action.
England have a couple of knocks to monitor when the players arrive at St George's Park, with Tottenham full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose among those who came out of the weekend fixtures with war wounds.
Two players summoned as cover in October, Burnley's uncapped centre-half Michael Keane and Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend, remain on the panel but Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drops out alongside West Ham's Michail Antonio.
For Everton's out-of-favour number 10 Ross Barkley, the exile goes on.
"Over the last few weeks we've been looking at as many games as possible and keeping track of all of the players," said Southgate.
"There were some players that weren't available to us last time with injury who are in good form that make the frame - the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling and it's good to be able to welcome them back.
"We had some good discussions with a lot of the clubs over the past few weeks."
The precise conversations that took place between the Football Association and United over Smalling and Shaw are not yet known, but the pair will surely find themselves under the spotlight following comments by Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho on Sunday.
The Portuguese might have been expected to be in good spirits after a 3-1 win at Swansea but appeared annoyed by the unavailability of some of his players.
''There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference," he told Sky Sports News.
Before the game he had said of the England pair: ''Chris Smalling doesn't feel he can play 100 per cent with his pain and Luke Shaw this morning told me he was not in condition to play.''