Fabio Capello is weighing up the possibility of bringing back John Terry as England captain in what would represent the most controversial move of his three years in charge of the national team.
The Football Association refused to comment last night on the possibility of a return for Terry as captain but new chairman David Bernstein is minded not to stand in the way of his Italian manager in matters that concern the team. It would represent a major u-turn for Capello who sacked the player as captain in February last year in order to end the media firestorm around Terry's alleged affair with Wayne Bridge's ex-fiancee Vanessa Perroncel.
At the World Cup last summer, Terry promised to challenge Capello in front of the squad following England's poor performance against Algeria. He was subsequently told not to do so and his insurrection did not have the support of his team-mates. Terry apologised to Capello. The Italian described Terry's actions as a "big mistake".
For England's Euro 2010 qualifier against Wales two weeks' today, Capello has already lost his vice-captain Steven Gerrard who, it was announced yesterday, will be out for a month with a groin problem. Rio Ferdinand, who missed the whole World Cup with injury, is also out again and a doubt for the game in Cardiff.
For the last game against Denmark last month, Frank Lampard was appointed captain but there are doubts now as to whether he is an automatic starter. Wayne Rooney, who has deputised as captain during games, is not an obvious choice given his form. Ashley Cole's shooting of an intern working at Chelsea rules him out as a candidate.
Capello was widely praised for his decisive action over Terry and any decision to bring him back is not in keeping with his reputation as an extremely strict disciplinarian. In the past, Capello has dismissed any notion that Terry could return to the job. However, the continued injury problems for Gerrard and Ferdinand would have appeared to have changed his mind.
Terry has complained in the past that "it took the piss" when, subsequent to his sacking as captain, the armband was passed around the team during substitutions in friendlies but never to him. He has always believed that, since the day he was sacked at Wembley by Capello, he would get the job back.