(REUTERS) - Sunderland winger Adam Johnson believes he has missed out on an England call-up because he does not play for one of the top football clubs in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old has 12 England caps but was a notable absentee from a 30-man squad named by manager Roy Hodgson for a recent friendly against Denmark and has not played for his country since an August 2012 friendly against Italy.
He moved to Sunderland from Manchester City days after that last cap and has not been called up by Hodgson since then despite becoming a key player for his struggling club in their battle against relegation.
"I think a lot of people saw me as almost a certainty (for England) but if you look at the last squad it was almost all top eight bar (Cardiff's Steven) Caulker, who wasn't meant to be in it but for (Phil) Jagielka's injury," Johnson told the Guardian newspaper on Thursday.
"I think that says a lot about the selection. I don't think it really matters how well you're playing, it's who you play for."
Hodgson's latest squad actually drew on players from 13 clubs, with Manchester United and Liverpool each providing five. Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur had a further nine between them.
Six players were from Everton or Southampton, the two other clubs currently in the top eight of the league.
Of the remaining six, only three were from Premier League clubs - West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff and Norwich City.
"If you look at the last 10 squads: Southampton have been playing well, they're in the 'top eight' and the rest are Everton, Tottenham, Man United, City, clubs like that," said Johnson.
"All my caps came when I was at (Manchester) City. Sometimes I got picked when I wasn't playing. Now I'm playing more and I can't get a cap. It's just a fact. It's not me being sour. Some of the players, if they weren't playing for the big clubs, wouldn't be anywhere near it (the squad)."
Johnson said he had joined Sunderland for the chance to play regularly, having spent long spells on the bench at a club packed with expensive imports, and felt he had shown what he could do but had not managed to sway Hodgson.
"In his mind I don't think he really wanted any big decisions to make so he stuck with the players who had been around since the start of the campaign," he said.
"That's life, that's the way it goes. It will be interesting to see how it goes in the World Cup and what happens after."
The World Cup in Brazil starts on June 12. Hodgson will name an initial 30-man squad on May 13.