Nottingham Forest full-back Eric Lichaj has established himself as regular starter for the top team in the Championship at the start of this season, but the American is still struggling to earn recognition from national team manger Jurgen Klinsmann.
Lichaj, 25, was handed his first US cap by former head coach Bob Bradley in October 2010 while still at Aston Villa, before going on to make seven more appearances over the next eight months, including as the starting left-back for the run to the 2011 Gold Cup final, which ended in a 4-2 defeat to rivals Mexico.
With the result prompting a change at the helm, the Chicago-native found himself overlooked under successor Klinsmann, despite making 34 commendable, albeit sporadic, appearances for Villa over the next two seasons, and it was not until moving to Forest on a free transfer in June 2013 that he would start to catch the attention of the German World Cup-winner with more regular minutes.
He would make his long-awaited return to the setup in November 2013 to be given brief looks in friendlies against Scotland and Austria, but a spate of injuries suffered over the second-half of the 2013-14 campaign would scupper the slim hopes he had of making the World Cup squad for Brazil.
|2014-15||Team||Pos||Tackles / apps||Tackle Acc||Duels Won / apps||Duel Success||Clearances / apps||Balls Recovered / apps||Passes / apps||Pass Acc||Apps||Mins|
|Eric Lichaj||Nott'm Forest||DF||1.4||64.29%||3.3||55%||3.2||4||24.8||74.6%||10||639|
Nevertheless, after moving from the right side of defence to the left over the first month of this season, the versatile Lichaj has made himself an established starter in Stuart Pearce's lineup and, with Klinsmann in the midst of experimenting with his roster ahead of the new World Cup cycle, one would think there would be chance to earn a recall.
That hasn't proven the case thus far, however, despite the the ageing DaMarcus Beasley looking set to fall out of the picture, with 23-year-old Club Tijuana left-back Greg Garza instead featuring in the past three friendlies against Czech Republic, Ecuador and Honduras, respectively.
Lichaj isn't necessarily the superior prospect going forward but, with injuries to World Cup veterans Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson, and no other obvious full-back candidates to compete with, now would have seemed like the ideal opportunity to make an impact.
In effect, if the North Carolina product can't force his way into Klinsmann's plans at a time when there are clear openings, and while he is receiving significant playing time in the English second-tier, then there might not be a better chance down the road.
That said, there have been just two squad get-togethers since Brazil 2014 and, with the US travelling to England in November to take on Croatia in a friendly at Craven Cottage, it seems likely that he would have to at least be in consideration next month if his form doesn't dip.
Certainly, if he continues to hold down a starting spot with Forest then the 10-times capped Lichaj will prove mightily hard for Klinsmann to ignore in the future and, having already proven himself at a high level of international football, bringing him back into the fold ahead of the 2015 Gold Cup might prove a wise and potentially rewarding move.