Jermaine Defoe and Joleon Lescott were both left bemused by Raheem Sterling's repeated omission from England duty.
The Chelsea forward's exile from the Three Lions continued when Gareth Southgate left him out of his group for Euro 2024 qualifying games against Malta and North Macedonia despite his impressive club form.
Sterling has scored 20 goals in 82 caps for England, but hasn't played for the national team since last year's World Cup quarter-final defeat by France, when he came off the bench.
He was injured for the opening Euro 2024 qualifiers in March but hasn't been able to regain his England place in the four subsequent squads.
And, speaking ahead of Friday's clash with Malta at Wembley, the former England duo couldn't quite understand why Sterling had fallen out of favour with Southgate.
'Even in previous squads him not being involved (is strange),' Defoe told Channel 4.
'He has been one of England's better players over last few years. On current form not only does he get in the squad, but he starts a game like this. He deserves to be in this squad.'
Lescott - who won 26 caps for his country during his career - agreed with Defoe and added: 'He's arguably as in form as anyone else.
'It will be a reason that Sterling won't understand. When you're not selected you tend to not understand.
'(But) Southgate knows if he calls upon Sterling in a major tournament then he will step up.'
The 28-year-old made his international debut more than 10 years ago in a friendly against Sweden in 2012.
He has shown signs of being back to his best this season after a difficult debut campaign at Stamford Bridge following his move from Man City last summer.
Sterling has scored four goals and added two assists in 12 Premier League appearances.
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