Fabio Capello will be at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to watch how Wayne Bridge and John Terry react when they face each other, with strong suggestions that Bridge will refuse to shake his former team-mate's hand before the match.
Bridge is still undecided as to whether he wants to carry on with his international career but if he is to retire it will, in all likelihood, be today that he makes the announcement. The provisional squad to play Egypt at Wembley next Wednesday is named today when all players who are under consideration for the final 23 get a text message from the Football Association.
The Manchester City left-back still feels humiliated by Terry's alleged affair with his ex-fiancee Vanessa Perroncel and does not know whether he can spend six weeks in the former England captain's company over the summer in South Africa. He has been mulling over a decision since the scandal broke and will make a short statement today if he decides to withdraw.
He has told friends that he will not shake Terry's hand when City and Chelsea line up for the Premier League protocol handshakes before the game. He may not be the only one on the visiting side who refuses to shake Terry's hand. Capello, whose general manager Franco Baldini will also be at Chelsea on Saturday, has said that he will pick Bridge this weekend.
The England manager's new captain Rio Ferdinand has hit a new setback in his struggle with a long-standing back problem, with the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson understood to believe the player should consider limiting his England games after the World Cup. The club are concerned about his back trouble, which those close to Ferdinand believe cannot be completely cured, only managed by a tailored fitness regime for the rest of his playing career.
Although Ferguson is aware of the significance of the World Cup to Ferdinand, the issue beyond South Africa this summer is how long the defender might maintain his club career and though there is no suggestion that the United manager believes Ferdinand should retire from England duties as team-mate Ryan Giggs has done with Wales, the qualifying campaign for the 2012 European Championships may be one in which Ferdinand does limit his commitments.
That would raise questions about the length of his tenure as captain. It is only 20 days since Capello declared that Ferdinand, his vice-captain, will assuming the leader's role from Terry. Ferdinand experienced his latest pain on Tuesday morning in a different part of his back to the area which has previously plagued him for so long and was forced to miss United's 3-0 win over West Ham. There was no sense from Old Trafford yesterday as to whether he needs a few days' recuperation or considerably more, but Capello will be asking whether a player who has only twice managed back-to-back games for United this season and will miss Sunday's Carling Cup final between United and Aston Villa, is fit enough for the rigours of tournament football this summer.
The additional worry is whether Steven Gerrard, Ferdinand's deputy, will be fully fit for South Africa at the end of what seems like a frantic three-month pursuit of a Champions League place for Liverpool.
The Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez did not entirely rule out summer surgery on a persistent groin problem for Gerrard. "There will be no surgery in the summer at this stage," Benitez said this week.Reuse content