Fabio Capello will have to make a decision on whether to reinstate Rio Ferdinand as captain or keep Steven Gerrard in the job in Tuesday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro after it emerged that the Manchester United man is likely to come back into the team in place of the injured Phil Jagielka.
It had looked as if Ferdinand, who has not played for England since May, would be left on the bench following two impressive performances by Jagielka at centre-back in the first two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland. That would have saved Capello the awkward choice of whether Ferdinand takes the captaincy back from Gerrard, who has had the role since the start of the World Cup.
However, Jagielka is now out of the Montenegro game at Wembley having pulled out of training yesterday with a hamstring problem and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks. The Everton defender completed the session but was in too much discomfort to take part in the subsequent training game. Previously he has had problem with fluid on his knee that requires draining. It is thought that the two injuries could be connected.
It is a blow for Jagielka whose performances meant he had challenged the Ferdinand-John Terry axis that has been a central part of the England team for the last seven years. It will be intriguing to see which decision Capello makes when it comes to the question of the captaincy. He avoided the issue after the win over Switzerland last month, prompting the idea that he could be considering keeping Gerrard in the role.
The England manager's intentions will be clear by Monday when the team captain is required to give the pre-match press briefing. His worry on Ferdinand is that, having replaced Terry as captain in February, he does not play enough to warrant the position. The 31-year-old has appeared just seven times since he captained the team in Terry's absence against Kazakhstan two years ago.
The Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill will come in to replace Jagielka who was sent home for treatment yesterday after the squad's first training session at Arsenal's London Colney. Aaron Lennon has a minor problem and Gareth Barry joined up with the squad last night after being given leave to see to a personal issue over the last 24 hours. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tom Huddlestone, who was cut from Capello's provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup, has an opportunity to make an impression in the absence of the injured Frank Lampard. He said that he hopes to stay in the squad.
"The only squads I've been in before have been for friendlies, so to be called up for a qualifier, a match that means a lot with three points at stake, is special," Huddlestone said. "It's nice to be a part of it. It seems like a long time since I was at the training camp before the World Cup and it's good to be back in the squad. At the same time, there are a few injuries as well, so you never know what would have happened if a few players had been fully fit."
The former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence – and one of Capello's two goalkeeping coaches – said yesterday that the door is not closed on Scott Carson for an international return. The West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper last played for England against Germany in November 2008 and is best remembered for his blunder against Croatia at Wembley in the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier in November 2007.
"Fabio will talk to you about things but then he makes the decision," Clemence said. "It is not for me to say, 'He is one, two or three'. It is for me to put the pros and cons for the keepers and he makes the decision. There are discussions going on every week as to who is doing well and who isn't doing well.
"Scott is now playing very well for West Brom – as are Joe Hart, Ben Foster and Robert Green at their clubs. There is competition for places, which is what you want."