England manager Fabio Capello faces a goalkeeping shortage ahead of next month's World Cup qualifiers after David James elected to undergo shoulder surgery.
The Portsmouth keeper goes into hospital tomorrow for an operation to correct a "long standing problem" that will keep him sidelined until the start of next season. England are already without Manchester United's Ben Foster, who has a thumb injury, leaving the door open for West Ham's Robert Green to press his claims for the games against Kazakhstan and Andorra.
Peterborough United's 21-year-old Joe Lewis won a surprise England call-up last year and could come into the frame again. West Brom's Scott Carson, Wigan Athletic's Chris Kirkland and Blackburn Rovers' Paul Robinson have fallen out of favour while Manchester City's Joe Hart is behind Shay Given in the Eastlands pecking order.
James delayed his operation until Portsmouth's Barclays Premier League status had been secured. "He has had a long-standing shoulder injury which needs to be corrected," said Portsmouth manager Paul Hart.
"He goes into hospital on Wednesday to have it sorted out. We hope if he goes in now he has a good chance of starting next season. He will be out for the summer. David is a very strong-minded person. He has made a decision so he is fit for next season. He has weighed it up. It has to be done and there has to be a sacrifice."
James had been an ever-present for Portsmouth in the league before last night, when he failed to shake off a stiff neck. Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic made an assured debut in goal as Portsmouth piled the pressure on relegation battlers Sunderland with a 3-1 victory at Fratton Park.