Michael Keane is set to win his first England cap in over a year – during which time his morale dropped so low the Everton defender revealed he did not want to leave the house.
The 25-year-old impressed on his Three Lions debut as Gareth Southgate switched to a back three for the 1-0 friendly defeat to Germany in March 2017.
A spot at the World Cup would have likely been on the cards for the former Manchester United youngster – but a loss of form in a struggling Everton side put pay to his hopes of making it to Russia.
Keane ended up in and out of the team as Ronald Koeman, David Unsworth and Sam Allardyce were all in charge of the Toffees at different points throughout the campaign.
He was also singled out as an under-performer after a big money move from Burnley last summer and, after working to get back to his best, he explained how difficult things became at times.
“There were a few months when things were going really badly and I did not really want to go and do things out of the house,” he said after he returned to the England set-up.
“When you’ve had a bad game you don’t want to go out for dinner. But I’ve never been out when people have shouted abuse at me.
“It is really sad when managers get sacked and they talk to you for the last time and see how visibly upset they are. That gets to you and makes you feel guilty and want to make sure it does not happen again. We had three managers in the end and it was difficult. All the change constantly happening.”
While Keane went through a tough spell, he insists he used his experiences as a character-building exercise after overcoming a hairline fracture to the skull earlier this season.
“Although it wasn’t a great year I took a lot from it,” he said.
“I learnt a lot about myself, I’m probably mentally stronger and developed that thick skin because a lot gets said about you when things aren’t going well.
“You’ve just got to learn to deal with it and try to not let it affect you and that’s something I can take from it. Now I can sit here in the England camp and say I’ve come through that.”
With Southgate likely to shuffle his pack, Keane could be in line to play in Thursday’s friendly clash with the United States.
The game will see Wayne Rooney return for a one-off cap to acknowledge the efforts of England’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Keane, whose debut in Germany came as the hosts paid similar respects to Lukas Podolski, spent a season with Rooney at Everton last year and praised the impact of the former England captain.
“Wayne was a great person to have around,” he added.
“He’s obviously experienced, he’s a winner, a leader, so he was someone you wanted in your changing room.
“When things weren’t going well at half-time he’d have a pop at the whole squad. Trying to get you fired up and going again in the second half.
“That’s something he’s always had since he was younger. I think he’s a natural leader. So it was brilliant to have him around.
“Obviously I knew him when I was at United, and then at Everton as well. So I’ve been lucky enough to play quite a lot with him, and see what a great player and great person he is.
“I think he deserves it (Thursday’s game). He’s obviously our top goalscorer and he’s got the most caps of outfield players. I think he’s earned it. I think it’s important that the country recognises the players that have done a lot for them.
“Wayne is definitely one of them. I think everyone in camp is really happy for him and hopefully he gets the send-off he deserves. I’m sure he will.”
The DC United forward has scored 53 goals in 119 appearances for England and last played for his country against Scotland two years ago. Rooney admitted it will be “strange” playing at Wembley once again but added: “It (is) something I am looking forward to. I had my first training session yesterday and it was strange getting in amongst the players at training.
“To run out at Wembley again will be something I will be proud of and it will be a special moment. I’m not making any demands, my message to Gareth was ‘you get what you need out of me and when you feel it’s right to bring me on that’s fine for me’.”