England manager Gareth Southgate has poured cold water on Scott Sinclair’s chances of earning an imminent international call.
The 28-year-old is the second highest-scoring Englishman playing at the top club level after netting his tenth goal of the season in Celtic’s 3-0 Champions League win at Anderlecht on Wednesday.
In-form Harry Kane has 11 goals for Tottenham while Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford have five for Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester United respectively.
Sinclair has scored 35 goals in 65 games for Celtic since moving from Aston Villa last year but Southgate believes he has better options.
He said: “I had a conversation with Brendan [Rodgers, Celtic manager] about him at the end of last season. He’s a good player but we have good quality in that area of the pitch and at the moment I think he is just below the level of what we have already got.
“I would be happy to have that conversation [what he needs to do to break through] with him but I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about performance aspects in public.”
Sinclair could see several of his Celtic team-mates go to the World Cup though with Scotland still hopeful of qualifying as they sit a point behind second-place Slovakia with two games left.
England top Group F and need one win from their matches against Slovenia and Lithuania to win the group and qualify for Russia and Southgate still feels Scotland could join them via the play-offs.
“I think some good young players have come through that Gordon [Strachan] has given their heads to. The likes of [Stuart] Armstrong and [Kieran] Tierney,” he said.
“They’ve got themselves on a roll with momentum. And yeah, they have two very difficult games but games where it’s in their hands. There’a no reason they can’t qualify.”
Southgate, meanwhile, has tried to ease fears of player burnout ahead of the World Cup.
At Euro 2016 Kane struggled after a long season with Tottenham, while West Brom gave midfielder Jake Livermore time off this month after saying he was mentally tired.
Former England bosses Fabio Capello and Sven-Goran Eriksson have blamed fatigue for previous tournament failures but Southgate feels his squad will be fine.
He said: “I played in tournaments, I played seasons that involved 45 or 50 games, I’m not a huge believer in burnout. I think there’s mental fatigue, but physically it’s about getting the right level of training, the appropriate stimulus to make sure people are ready. We should have enough expertise to get that to the best possible level. That requires all the players to be looking after themselves right. Somebody like Harry will do that.”