Sam Allardyce admits that omitting Ross Barkley from his first England squad was the toughest decision he had to make.
Allardyce, who also confirmed at today's press conference that he would name his captain on Tuesday, left Barkley out of his 23-man squad for this weekend's 2018 World Cup qualifier in Slovakia despite the Everton midfielder having enjoyed a promising start to the season.
The 22-year-old, who was an unused member of England's Euro 2016 squad, has scored twice in his first four games for Everton but that was not enough to prevent him being left out by Allardyce.
The former Sunderland boss said: "We've had to make some very, very difficult decisions. None more so than Ross Barkley. It's disappointing for him.
"The door will always be open for Ross but at this moment I think the squad I've named is right."
On what things he and his coaching staff had looked at when selecting players, Allardyce said: "We've looked at all avenues, what sort of pre-season they've had, what happened last season, this season, look at balance of the squad...."
While Barkley was left out, along with the likes of Jack Wilshere, there was better news for recalled quartet Luke Shaw, Phil Jagielka, Danny Drinkwater and Theo Walcott.
There was a surprise first call-up for West Ham winger Michail Antonio, with the squad showing five changes from the one that went to Euro 2016.
Antonio joined the Hammers in 2015 having played for Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton and Nottingham Forest since beginning his career at non-league Tooting & Mitcham.
In explaining his decision to select the 26-year-old, Allardyce said: "The journey. The quality of the player that has shown through in every league he has played. The impact he had at the end of last season and the start of this, his attacking flair, his quality for final-third delivery, and his goal record from a wide position.
"I think that that journey is something that deserves to be in this squad and me to have a look at as a potential player going forward.
"It shows if you've got guts and termination and desire, how much it means (to you).... then he goes forward and creates a career for him which finally ends in the Premier League and finally with us in this squad."