Leighton Baines said the selection of three Everton players in Fabio Capello's latest England squad was a testament to the work of Toffees boss David Moyes.
Baines, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott have all been included in the Italian's party for this weekend's friendly against Slovakia and the subsequent FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Ukraine.
"It's massive for us as a club," said Baines. "It's a mark of how much we are progressing. There won't be too many lads at Finch Farm (Everton's training ground) this week; nearly all of our players are internationals, and that speaks volumes for the quality the gaffer (Moyes) has brought in."
There won't be too many lads at Finch Farm (Everton's training ground) this week; nearly all of our players are internationals, and that speaks volumes for the quality the gaffer (Everton manager David Moyes) has brought in
For Baines his inclusion means the 24-year-old left back is now in sight of making a senior England appearance to go with his Under 21-caps. "It's the proudest moment of my career," he said. "To get recognition at that level is something everyone aspires to; I'm delighted and honoured to have been called up.
"Everything has happened so quickly. I was only thinking the other day that at Christmas I felt I'd be lucky to get a run of two or three games in our team when Joe (Joseph Yobo) was injured. But I'm feeling a lot more confident now. Things had been stop-start since I came here, but I always felt that if I could get a run of 12 or 15 games I'd be much better.
"Thankfully that has happened, and I'm so pleased with the way things have gone recently. When I knew I was in the 30-man squad, I would have been happy enough with that. I never really expected to get the call. But I can't wait to go down and see what it's all about. It's a terrific opportunity, and I'll give it my best shot."
Fit for a King
Meanwhile England have assured Tottenham Hotspur they will not take any undue risks with the fitness of centre-back Ledley King. The Spurs captain's longstanding right knee problem reduces his ability to both train and play in the same week.
But thanks to careful handling by Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, the 28-year-old has still turned in some fine displays, most recently during Saturday's victory over London rivals Chelsea, at the heart of Spurs's defence.
And a spokesman for the Football Association said on Monday that Capello was sensitive to Spurs's concerns. "The England management have spoken to Tottenham Hotspur and explained that they will take no risks at all with Ledley King," he said.
"They fully understand the player's injury situation but they wanted to have a close look at him in the team environment as Ledley has not previously been part of a Fabio Capello squad. He will be monitored during the week by the England and Tottenham Hotspur medical staff before any decision on training or playing is made." King has not played for England since the UEFA EURO 2008 qualifier in Estonia almost two years ago.