His best chance of an international recall may be in the England number 12 jersey but Olly Barkley is planning to put club before country as he attempts to return to top form following a lengthy injury lay-off.
With England struggling for quality reinforcements should Riki Flutey suffer an untimely injury – Barkley and Northampton’s Shane Geraghty offer Martin Johnson the only like-for-like replacements in the Guinness Premiership.
Barkley came off the bench last weekend to play his first game for Bath since breaking his leg at a pre-season training camp in Portugal.
It was also the 28-year-old’s first game in a Bath shirt since leaving the club for an ill-fated year at Gloucester last season.
The England hopeful had hoped for a run in the Bath midfield on his return from injury but with fellow long-term absentee Butch James suffering a shoulder injury at the weekend – Barkley now looks set for a run at fly-half.
“I would like to play 12,” said Barkley. “That’s my position but the team comes first and if Steve (Meehan) wants to play me somewhere else then I will go there.
“Playing for England again is pretty distant for me right now. My priority at the moment is Bath and getting back in the Bath team and that’s in whatever position I’m asked to play.
“We’re starting to play really well, and with good performances for your club come recognition from higher up in whatever position I’m playing.
“Steve has his own ideas on who he wants to play at inside centre. I am not looking at that currently, all I can do is train as hard as I can and keep putting my hand up for selection.”
After a summer of off-field controversy and the departures of a number of senior players – Matt Stevens, Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett, Andrew Higgins and Justin Harrison – Barkley is convinced Bath are finally returning to top form.
It took Bath until the last week of December to record just their second Guinness Premiership win of the season but since then they’ve gone on to record successive league wins against Leeds, London Irish and Worcester.
With their walking wounded also now returning to duty – Barkley is convinced Bath can be transformed from relegation candidates to play-off hopefuls with a late season run of form.
“The start of the season was hard for us because we were losing games and often it was just a point in it,” added Barkley.
“But the boys have never stopped working hard – the work ethic from the coaches and players has never been less than brilliant.
“We realised three or four weeks ago what makes us successful. If you take that amount of senior, experienced, talented players out of a side, the rebuilding period is always going to take time.
“It can take months to replace their roles in the team and to be fair the boys who have come in like Luke Watson and David Wilson have done fantastically but they were given very little time to adapt.
“The backline are playing very well. It is a good challenge to try and break into the team especially when they are playing well.
“When everyone is fit then you would say we have one of the most dangerous backlines in the Premiership. Our back three can score tries from anywhere and the inside backs can create opportunities for them.”