Adam Lallana has admitted he thought Southampton manager Nigel Adkins was having a laugh when he told the youngster he had been called up by England.
The 24-year-old was one of three players called up by Roy Hodgson following a spate of withdrawals from his squad to face Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Tuesday. Chelsea duo John Terry and Ashley Cole were ruled out over the weekend, and on Monday Theo Walcott went back to Arsenal after contracting a virus.
Daniel Sturridge was also unable to train due to illness and, although Hodgson expects the striker to be fit, he was quick to draft in replacements. Lallana was one following an encouraging start to the season, except he did not quite believe it. He told www.saintsfc.co.uk: "I didn't think the gaffer was being serious when he called to tell me this morning."
He continued: "I was at home about to head into the training ground when he called - I must have asked if he was having me on a dozen times! I'm totally shocked to be honest."
Named Saints' skipper this summer on their return to the Premier League, Lallana has represented England at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 levels. And whilst he realises it is a long shot that he will make his debut tomorrow, he is delighted with the recognition.
"It's such a proud accomplishment to be called up to play for your country at any level, but to be called into the senior side is probably the proudest moment of my career so far," he said.
"It is every player's dream to represent your country at the top level. I'm realistic in accepting I might not be that heavily involved, but the fact that I will be around such experienced international players is something I am really excited about."
Lallana will link up with former team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who featured in Friday's 5-0 defeat of Moldova in Chisinau. And as Walcott is another Southampton old-boy, clearly the south coast outfit are doing something right.
"It reflects really well on the club," Lallana said. "It shows just how far Southampton has come to have an English player represented at national level.
"We have a lot of talented young English players here and I'm sure that I won't be the last person to represent our country."