Posers aplenty for Capello
Fabio Capello will unveil his latest England squad tomorrow, but it is next week when the difficulties start. Rio Ferdinand and John Terry should both get automatic recalls for the squad to face Montenegro in the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier at Wembley on 12 October.
The return of that experienced duo has been made far easier by the injury to Michael Dawson, which has ruled the Tottenham Hotspur defender out. With Kieran Gibbs relegated to the U-21s for their play-off against Romania, Joleon Lescott - who returned from a groin injury for Manchester City this afternoon - can act as cover for Ashley Cole in the left-back role.
Few would argue against Ferdinand and Terry being among the best English centre-backs. Far more controversial is whether they should both be picked considering how well Phil Jagielka performed, in the positions the pair have regarded as their own, in last month's victories over Bulgaria and Switzerland.
In addition to that poser, Capello must decide who his captain will be. As it presently stands, Ferdinand has the job, but the Manchester United man has been overlooked for the role at Old Trafford by Sir Alex Ferguson, who hinted the 31-year-old's questionable fitness was the key to his decision to give the armband to Nemanja Vidic.
Since being appointed England skipper in the wake of Terry's sacking, Ferdinand has featured in only two of ten internationals. In his absence, Steven Gerrard has been hugely impressive, particularly last month when he handled the fall-out from Wayne Rooney's much-publicised personal problems with maturity.
There are plenty of observers who feel Gerrard should now get the job full-time, a belief which has been fuelled by Capello's recent neutrality on the subject, considering the Italian previously came out strongly in favour of Ferdinand keeping the captaincy.
Capello has never given any indication of being concerned about the position. However, he has been around the Three Lions long enough now to recognise it is a significant status symbol which goes beyond merely handing it to the most experienced player, as he has been used to in his career so far.
Form Toon bench to England squad?
With Jermain Defoe, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Theo Walcott out with ankle injuries suffered during that encouraging 3-1 win in Basel last month, changes are inevitable.
Speculation about a first call-up for Andy Carroll was fuelled by the hulking striker's omission from the England U-21 squad. However, he was only a substitute for Newcastle United at Eastlands today, with manager Chris Hughton confirming it was a decision taken on form grounds, which hardly presents the ideal backdrop to an international call.
In any case, Capello has been given the green light to select Wayne Rooney by Sir Alex Ferguson, and in those circumstances, it would be highly unlikely for the England coach to overlook his main marksman.
More intriguing is the position of Jack Wilshere, who was selected by Stuart Pearce for U-21 duty, but could be released after the first leg in Norwich and report instead for senior duty after an encouraging start to the season, which included winning a first full cap against Hungary in August.