John Terry will continue to be selected for England, and captain the national team, while he awaits the outcome of a Football Association investigation into his alleged racist abuse of the Queen's Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
The FA disciplinary and control department has already embarked on what is arguably the most sensitive and potentially difficult case the governing body has faced in recent times, but has agreed that there is no way that the player can be excluded before a judgement has been made. Fabio Capello has been informed of the decision and he is certain to pick Terry, if fit, for the friendlies against Spain and Sweden next month, providing the FA has not come to a judgement against the player by then.
It is unlikely that Rio Ferdinand, the brother of Anton and formerly captain of England, will be picked for the Spain game on 12 November or for Sweden three days later because Capello will try to blood new players and give less experienced squad members game-time. The Ferdinand brothers were together yesterday at an event with Pele in the West End of London.
The FA yesterday refused to put any timeframe on the investigation into Terry. The next England squad is due to be named on 6 November which gives them just 11 days to pull together the case. The ideal outcome for the FA would be to have it concluded by then.
Evidence will be collated by the disciplinary and control department, headed by Darren Bailey, the FA director of governance. There have been suggestions the FA, aware of the urgency with which the case needs to be settled, has already been at QPR to take evidence from individuals.
If the governing body establishes there is a case to answer and charges Terry, then the FA will form the equivalent of a prosecution with Terry and Chelsea taking the defence. The verdict will be reached by a three-man panel independent of the FA which, as with all disciplinary cases, is drawn from a list of individuals that is endorsed by all clubs.
Terry would have the right of appeal in the case of a guilty verdict and any sanctions levelled against him would be suspended until an appeal was heard.
It will not escape the attention of the Ferdinand camp that Anton's brother Rio was excluded from the England squad as soon as he was charged with having missed a drugs test in October 2003. It was that part of the process that caused such outrage among Ferdinand's Manchester United team-mates in the England squad at the time.
It is not clear whether Anton himself will testify that he heard the alleged abuse from Terry with suggestions yesterday that he was not aware of anything from the Chelsea captain until he was told after the game about the furore. It is QPR who have asked the FA to investigate. The evidence of Ashley Cole is crucial. The England left-back and long-term friend of Terry, who is mixed race, was close to his team-mate when the alleged comment was made.
Terry also faces a police investigation into the matter after an anonymous complaint was made that the Metropolitan Police is obliged to follow up. The defender did not travel with Chelsea last night for their fourth-round Carling Cup tie with Everton at Goodison Park. However, it is unlikely that he would have played in the game anyway, even before events of the previous four days.