Just a day after Roy Hodgson's fudged attempt to ease the pressure on Ross Barkley by criticising aspects of his game against Ecuador, former England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has gone a step further by saying he shouldn't be included in the squad at all.
Pearce argues that Barkley would have more playing time in the Under-21 set-up at this stage of his career and would therefore be better equipped to handle senior international football in the long-term.
He also points to the success of teams like France and Spain, who have enjoyed success at youth level before transferring that success to the senior side.
Speaking to the Guardian, Pearce said:
"If you look around Europe, at the French or the Spanish, before they won a World Cup or European Championship they were champions at Under-19 or Under-21 level. That tells me that they are building from the bottom.
"If you are going to upgrade someone to a higher age group, be aware that their mentality will mean they won’t want to come back down and play in the Under-21 championship. That’s a fact. It means you go to an Under-21 tournament with so many players missing like last time and you can’t win anything. It means you consistently don’t win anything in the underage groups and that means you can’t win anything at senior level."
"The culmination of minutes that Ross has played this season for the senior team, bearing in mind he’s been in every senior squad, he’s played less than 90 minutes.
"Does that mean he’s had great experience sitting in the stands or does it mean he’s missed six or seven Under-21 qualifiers and the experience of international football. I know where I would have left him."
Pearce certainly does a bad job of trying to disguise his bitterness after his Under-21 team were dumped out of the European Championships last summer without winning a game.
There were mitigating circumstances I admit, his squad was decimated by withdrawals and players promoted to the senior side, while a number of other players who did go to the tournament looked disinterested.
The lesson there is that too many average players, Wilfried Zaha for one, have been given full caps and suddenly think they are too good for the Under-21s when they drop back down (young footballer in being arrogant shocker!)
But that should not be a reason to hold players back. Has Pearce seen the state of the senior side recently?
The failed golden generation are on its way out and Roy Hodgson has to fill the squad with new, young, exciting players. He is also limited to 23 players in his World Cup squad, meaning he cannot simply pick players to 'enjoy the ride'
Barkley will get some game time in Brazil and if he is not careful may end up a starter (and a regular one at that). Is Pearce seriously suggesting that experience should be missed in favour of the Toulon Under-21 tournament?
Remember this is all coming at a time where English players are apparently seeing their development stunted due to a lack of competitive football at a young age.
The likes of Spain have had successful youth sides, particularity in recent years. But that is because their senior team is so good they can afford to leave talented youngsters in the Under-21s.
If England had better senior players then of course Barkley would be left out. But the fact is they haven't and so Hodgson has to pick the best 23 regardless of age.
Success does breed success so the long-term plans must be for Hodgson to try and mould this current generation of players into a decent team for years to come and give the generation behind them something to strive for.
That is surely the better option than deliberately not picking talented players just because of what is says on their birth certificate.