Loyalty will mean nothing to England manager Roy Hodgson when he selects his squad for the FIFA World Cup.
After an unconvincing qualifying campaign, which saw England scrape through top of Group H by a point, they suffered friendly losses to Chile and Germany before edging Denmark 1-0 on Wednesday.
But those players who helped his side qualify are guaranteed nothing when Hodgson names his squad on May 13 – three weeks before the official deadline – according to the manager.
"The pressure does get greater now and I think people will have to accept that it is my job to pick the best 23, and I have to do it on the merits of the players," he said.
"It's not like it has been in the past sometimes, where loyalty can be rewarded."
Debate surrounding his squad selection is sure to continue after he reveals his party and throughout the tournament in Brazil.
But Hodgson said the only critic he needed to answer to was himself.
"If you are on the plane, you are on it because I really believe you have a role to play and I could justify it to myself," he said.
"People will say 'he has made a mistake by not choosing him' but that doesn't interest me as much.
"I need to justify it to myself, I need to know I made the right decision and then I will accept other people's criticisms."
Hodgson is delighted to have fierce competition for the number one goalkeeping position with West Brom shot-stopper Ben Foster fit again and pushing Manchester City's Joe Hart.
"One thing is for sure - when Ben is around, Joe knows he has a fight on his hands. Then we have the other two in Fraser Forster and John Ruddy so we are not short on quality," he said.comments