England head coach Roy Hodgson insists Tottenham skipper Michael Dawson has earned his place in his current squad "on merit" after finally experiencing an injury-free run.
Dawson's recall almost went by unnoticed after the spotlight focused on fellow centre-back Rio Ferdinand's inclusion in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro.
But Hodgson says the 29-year-old's call-up is as justified as that of Ferdinand, and said: "Michael is in the squad on this occasion in the same way as Rio is in the squad on this occasion, because I think their performances merit them being there."
He added: "Michael hasn't really been a part of my thinking in the past because, to be frank, he hasn't been fit enough to play.
"If we go back to the time of the Euros last summer and the autumn, he wasn't even a potential candidate for the squad because of that reason.
"But he has been fit for the last couple of months and now he is able to play, I have decided to call him up.
"I have always thought Michael was a good player. I don't know if he has developed. You would have to ask his club coaches if they think they have seen a development.
"But I thought he was a good player when I came across him as an opponent in the Premier League and I see him as a good player today.
"I have met him in the past and had plenty of occasions to see him play on the opposite side when he was in the Tottenham team against either Fulham or West Brom."