On Tuesday morning, Fabio Capello will make seven fateful telephone calls that will end the dreams of those who answer. The Italian already knows in his own mind 20 of the men he will call upon in South Africa next month.
The remaining ten will face Japan in Graz tomorrow knowing they must scrap for their lives to claim one of that coveted trio of remaining tickets.
"I more or less know," he admitted. "Not 23 but maybe 20. It will be disappointing when I have to tell some of the players that they must go home because all the players here have trained really well. I am really happy with their focus and the job they have done. But I have to choose."
Likely candidates for the axe include Michael Dawson, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Scott Parker. Tom Huddlestone and Darren Bent both start tomorrow knowing a failure will probably end their hopes too.
A straight fight between Leighton Baines and Stephen Warnock to act as deputy to Ashley Cole at left-back will end in heartbreak for the loser, while Joe Cole and Adam Johnson would appear to be scrapping over the remaining berth.
Capello will assess the performances of his players in tomorrow's final friendly, then receive any injury updates on Monday and, in Gareth Barry's case, Tuesday morning before reaching a conclusion that will be all his own work.
"No. I won't talk to the senior players," he said. "If I lose I want to know it has been because of my decisions."
So much would appear to hinge on Barry. Although there were some dire early predictions for the Manchester City midfielder's fate, his recovery appears to be progressing roughly in line with official estimates when he first suffered ankle ligament damage against Tottenham on 5 May.
Capello has provided an optimistic medical bulletin. However, even he cannot wait forever. And when he makes his call on Tuesday morning, he must discover Barry will be fit to play a full part in training the day after England tackle USA in their Group C opener in Rustenburg on 12 June.
"Barry has improved a lot. The last news was good," said Capello. "But we have to wait and see what the doctor says. After that, we will know if he will be fit in a short time and ready to train with us, or whether he won't be ready.
"He has to be able to train normally the day after the first game. He is doing a lot of physiotherapy to get the movement going and is following what the doctor says. But I don't know if he is running yet."
With Barry back home in Manchester, Huddlestone has been handed a start in midfield tomorrow, whilst Bent will partner Wayne Rooney in attack, as he did with limited success against Brazil in Qatar last November.
Aaron Lennon and David James have also been assured of their spots, the latter making his first appearance in an England starting XI since April last year.