When it was first suggested Andy Carroll was ready for a place in the senior England squad, most people laughed off the claims.
They were seen as a reaction to England's failure at the World Cup and a number of solid performances from the striker, rather than an acknowledgement of the quality of the Newcastle man.
However, nearly three months into the 2010/2011 Premier League season, has this changed? If your name is Arsene Wenger, then yes. On Sunday his Arsenal side were undone by a moment of physical dominance from the young Newcastle striker, with his header diverting the ball past a helpless Lukasz Fabianski. Wenger has since stated that the player's "presence, charisma, confidence" and intelligence, alongside his rapid improvement, make him the ideal addition to the England set-up at the moment. Some may even view him as a good outside Premier League bet for top scorer this season.
With Fabio Capello watching on from the stands, Carroll grabbed his chance to shine on the biggest stage with both hands. Already thriving on the confidence inspired by his hat-trick against Aston Villa earlier this season, the player showed once again why he is worthy of being viewed as a regular future England player.
However, although the young man would undoubtedly offer Capello's men something different up front, with the player combining height and a dominant physical presence Peter Crouch is unable to replicate, controversy is a word that currently seems to be following Carroll around like a bad smell. He has made a number of court appearances this season, has had to move in with Kevin Nolan as part of his bail terms, has had his car torched, and has been the subject of fresh newspaper allegations just this week.
After the whole Wayne Rooney fiasco, the last thing that Capello will want is to introduce another player who courts controversy into his attacking line-up. The one thing the England camp needs right now is stability, with many blaming off-field distractions for the country's miserable World Cup 2010 campaign. Whether Carroll can help to introduce that element of stability and calm remains doubtful and that could yet be the one aspect of his game that sees him go unacknowledged by the England manager.
However, if Carroll can clean up his act and continue to improve on the impressive trajectory he's so far been following, it's surely only a matter of time before he can make his mark in an England shirt.
Meanwhile, the Middlesbrough betting suggests Newcastle's neighbours will not be making a return to the Premier League any time soon.
The club were favourites to win the Championship, but are currently in the relegation places.