Fabio Capello will name his provisional squad on Thursday for England's first Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria next week with the prospect of him tempting controversy by selecting Mikel Arteta looking like an increasingly remote possibility.
The Everton midfielder who has played five years in the Premier League – and would qualify to play for England through residency – expressed an interest for the first time this weekend in playing for England. However, the expectation is that Capello will not go down that route when he names his 45-man provisional squad this week.
The provisional squad is never made public. The players are contacted by text message by the Football Association to alert them to the fact that they are under consideration for the 25-man squad and not to make alternative plans for international week.
The final squad to play Bulgaria and Switzerland in Basel on 7 September will be announced on Sunday.
The feeling within the Capello camp is that selecting Arteta, 28, who has never played for Spain's senior team, would be a step too far but they have not made a final decision. It is not even clear whether the player has applied for dual nationality, which would be a requirement of him playing for England next month.
The FA officially have no position on whether Arteta should be permitted to play for England if he and Capello chose to go down that route.
The FA would make a decision on the matter if Capello said that he wanted to select Arteta. In the case of Manuel Almunia, who was mooted as a possibility last season, the Capello camp felt that it was down to the Arsenal goalkeeper to make the first move by making himself eligible by applying for dual nationality.
The Paul Scholes situation is also one that continues to interest Capello and his staff.
Although the player has said repeatedly that he will not play for England again, there is still discussion about trying to talk the Manchester United midfielder out of his six-year retirement.