England boss Gareth Southgate defended his selection of Jake Livermore and insisted loyalty deserved to be rewarded.
West Brom midfielder Livermore is in the squad for this month's friendlies in Holland and at home to Italy despite struggling at the Baggies, the Premier League's bottom side, ahead of the summer's World Cup.
Having included him ahead of the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Southgate stood by his decision as he spoke about Livermore's response to being called up for the last squad, as a late replacement, for the Wembley friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
Livermore -- who turned 28 on Nov. 14, the day England hosted Brazil -- had been set to go on a birthday trip away with his family.
Southgate said: "It's very straightforward for me. We've played Jake in several matches and he's done a job for the team. In November, we left him out and he was just about to board a plane.
"He left the family at the airport, he came in, he did really well for us against Germany and Brazil, and I think that has to carry some weight when you are building the spirit and culture around your team.
"That doesn't mean he is guaranteed to go in the summer, but I think it justifies him staying in our squad, because he has been an important member of our squad in building what we want to build in terms of togetherness and spirit.
"That is the sort of example of sacrificing what you are doing for the team that I think is important. So I get that, I know when I pick Jake it is going to get a certain sort of reaction. But there is a specific reason for why we have done it this time in particular."
Southgate added: "It's an important message for the group that if you are left out and have disappointment, first of all there is opportunity to come back in, secondly we want you to take that opportunity and respond in the right way, and who knows what might happen?''
But Southgate -- who also omitted Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Michael Keane -- ruled out Chelsea's Ross Barkley making a late run for World Cup selection this summer and said Stamford Bridge teammate Danny Drinkwater is down the pecking order.
The England boss said: "Danny's not been in Chelsea's team and we felt with the players we've discussed already -- the likes of [Lewis] Cook and [Jack] Wilshere on top of those we've had in those deeper positions -- there were other players we wanted to see. Simple as that.
"I think Ross has just not been fit. He went [to Chelsea] on the back of a long-term injury, quite a serious one, and only had a couple of matches really.
"So I don't think he's available for selection now anyway, so he's unfortunate in the way that has played out in this year in particular.
"But if he can get back playing and playing regularly I'm sure, post-summer ... It's going to be difficult for him I think to get the number of games he needs now. But we know he's a talented player."