The new England manager, Roy Hodgson, increasingly believes that he cannot take both Chelsea's John Terry and Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand to the European Championships and will make a choice between the two defenders in his squad announcement a week today.
It is the major issue facing Hodgson and one that he has precious little time to address in detail before he picks his 23 players for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine. While no final decisions have been made it is understood that he is considering the possibility of leaving out Terry, whose removal as England captain prefaced Fabio Capello's departure as manager in February.
Terry's court case on a charge of racially aggravated abuse of Ferdinand's brother, Anton, on 9 July, looms over the England squad selection, which has been moved to a week today rather than Monday, immediately after the end of the season, in order to give Hodgson more time in making his decision.
The England manager did not attend the game between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield last night as his schedule is so packed over the next few days. Hodgson has been given leave by his club West Bromwich Albion to have two to three days this week on England duty ahead of his last game in charge of the club against Arsenal on Sunday.
He is yet to speak to Terry and Ferdinand about their attitude towards being in the same squad for potentially more than five weeks, as Hodgson said he would in his first press conference as England manager eight days ago. However, it is not inconceivable he could make the decision without consulting the pair.
The squad that Hodgson picks is expected to be a more experienced, familiar group of players than the one with which he approaches the next World Cup qualification campaign. He had just 16 days between his appointment and picking his squad and will opt for a safer option.
With Ray Lewington already appointed to his European Championship staff, Hodgson is expected to add Phil Neville, 35, the Everton captain who has won 59 caps for England and played at two European Championships, in 2000 and 2004.
Ukraine, England's final Group D opponents, on 19 June in Donetsk, announced their squad for the tournament yesterday. The coach, Oleg Blokhin, included 35-year-old Andrei Shevchenko, who scored against England in a World Cup qualifier in April 2009. Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland are among the first to have already named their squads.
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