Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain admits his England axe was a “kick up the backside” after he vowed to fight for his place for his country.
The Arsenal forward revealed he never spoke to former Three Lions boss Sam Allardyce during his 67 days in charge after being omitted from the ex-manager’s only squad.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has not played for England in a year and also missed Euro 2016 with a knee injury but knows being left out of Allardyce’s squad in August hurt.
“It provided a kick up the backside,” said the 23-year-old, who has 24 caps. “I have been playing for England since I was 18 and while I wouldn’t say I took it all for granted it just seemed to be a part of my season – to play for Arsenal and to play for England.
“And so to be available and to be feeling good and fit – to not be in, yeah, it was a jolt.
“It was a wake-up call. I am not young now, I am 23, so you need to be performing and playing as much as you can to deserve a chance to go and play for England.
“So I wouldn’t say I had taken it for granted but being back in the set-up now makes me realise how special it is and it is something I want to keep happening in the foreseeable future.
“I didn’t speak to Big Sam at all. I guess he had a lot to do what with it being his first game as England manager so I didn’t expect to get a call from him. I had hopes to be involved.
“There are a lot of young players now that are doing really well and it’s not an easy squad to get into. You shouldn’t just be able to walk into an England squad.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain ‘didn’t watch Euro 2016’
The ex-Southampton star posted several Instagram pictures of him working out in the gym while on holiday when the last squad met but was not making a point as he “didn’t think Sam had Instagram”.
His last game for England came when he scored in a 3-0 win in Lithuania in October 2015 but admitted he tried to avoid watching Euro 2016 until England’s embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the second round.
“I didn’t watch the first few because I was just gutted I wasn’t there and I tried to switch off from it but I always found myself tuning in for the end to watch the last moments of it,” he said.
“Then the Iceland game, when we got through to the next round, I made sure I watched the boys.
“At that point I wouldn’t say I was over not being there but I was a little bit more accustomed to it and I was doing my rehab.
“So I watched the Iceland game and I was just as disappointed as everyone was. You put out the players that played against Iceland, or any England team that plays against Iceland, and nine times out of 10 we should win. The ability is obviously there and then I guess the psychological part of it is massive, but whether that’s a big factor I’m not sure.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain impressed by Southgate
Southgate is in charge for England’s next four games with Oxlade Chamberlain’s club boss Arsene Wenger linked to the role full-time.
Wenger’s contract at Arsenal expires in the summer and the Frenchman is yet to rule a move out but Oxlade-Chamberlain has been impressed by Southgate in his three days with him.
He said: “Everyone knows about Arsene Wenger what a great manager but right now there’s a lot going on and all I’m focused on is Gareth and he’s just come in. The first few days working with him has been brilliant. They’ve made the boys feel relaxed and confident with what they’re trying to do.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain returned to Southgate’s squad with two goals in eight games for the Gunners this season but was questioned by Wenger at the start of the campaign as he wondered if the ex-Saints man knew how good he could be.
He added: “Of course I believe in myself. There are times in your career where you have good and bad form and get criticised and bigged up.
“There will be times where I’ve lost a bit of confidence and there’s been times where I’ve looked for the more simple options but that’s part of learning and developing as a young player.”