"I'd hoped not," he said when asked if he had thought his international career was over.
"There were times I did think maybe I won't get in. But it didn't stop me from getting my head down and working hard and hope I got a chance to represent my country again.
"I was getting grief from my team-mates for still having the England flag on my boots.
"If I do get an opportunity to go to a major tournament, it will be a dream."
He was asked if he would need to be in the Premier League to be in the squad, with Sunderland in relegation trouble.
"You have to be playing at the top level. I missed out on a World Cup when I went to Toronto. You probably need to be playing in the Premier League."
"It feels different coming in as one of the senior lads. You're like a sponge when you come in as a youngster," he added.
"Now you want to try to help the younger lads. Gareth Southgate has always impressed me. He's been there and done it - played in major tournaments.
"He's the perfect man for the job."