England's captain for tomorrow night's friendly against the Czech Republic – and more importantly the forthcoming World Cup qualification campaign – will be announced later today but yesterday one of the previous incumbents, Tony Adams, made it unequivocally clear who he would back to wear the armband.
It has come down to a straight choice between John Terry and Rio Ferdinand with the indications from the England camp being that manager Fabio Capello was, even last night, still weighing up the merits of the two central defenders. "It's 50-50," said one source, with none of the 23-man squad privy to the manager's decision – if one has been reached. Adams, however, said he would choose Chelsea's captain.
"John Terry. One hundred per cent," he said. "I went on record before the last World Cup and nothing has changed. He's still a great leader, a great footballer, a great man. I think you can see it on the pitch. John Terry can lead and organise better than anyone else. He's a bit more vocal. He has communication skills. He attacks the ball, he's strong, he's quick, he has the experience now. I think he's a good leader.
"If there is a captain there to help you win the football game then you make him captain. It's simple. And if I want to win football games then I would have JT as my skipper."
Indeed there has been a growing sense around the England set-up in the past few weeks that Terry, with his strong displays at the end of last season and the way he has conducted himself, may have done enough to convince the Italian that he should be retained. If Terry succeeds in doing so it will represent a remarkable comeback for the 27-year-old after the débâcle of the Steve McClaren regime.
He had clearly fallen behind Ferdinand in Capello's thinking and, at one stage, was accused of moping around. Last night, however, sources continued to stress that it was too close to call between the pair.
It has been a curiosity of Capello's stewardship that the captaincy – which he claimed was not an issue for Italians, who are happy to award it to the player with the most number of caps – has become such a big issue. The choice has been shrouded in secrecy before today's official unveiling. Capello, who probably would have reverted to David Beckham had the midfielder been playing in Europe, is understood to have found the whole procedure irritating, although it is of importance to FA officials.
"I would not have got in the situation because I would have had a clear captain for the past four years," Adams, who was speaking at an England fans forum hosted by sponsors Nationwide Building Society, said. "Capello will probably do it the Italian way and just get a bib and say 'there you go, you are skipper'."
The 41-year-old former Arsenal defender, who won 66 England caps and is now a coach at Portsmouth, said the delay in naming a captain, and the rehearsal of various candidates, was a ploy by Capello to buy himself time.
"Putting myself in his shoes, and not sure of the characters he's got, maybe he needed the time and he's given himself the space," he said.
Nevertheless it has led to a re-run of a situation that Adams found himself in back in the 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign when he vied with Alan Shearer for the England captaincy under Glenn Hoddle's stewardship.
"I have some resentment at the way Glenn Hoddle handled Alan Shearer and myself," Adams said before admitting that that was mainly due to the fact that he was not chosen. "I do honestly feel I could have contributed a lot more in '98 and I did kind of take my foot off the pedal. There was a lot going on and the decision may have influenced me."
Adams, who said he had spent time witnessing Capello's coaching techniques at Juventus, claimed that some of the English players may find his "continual mental approach a little strange".
"The English psyche is less regimented and has more freedom," Adams said. "It [the change] was maybe needed. It's not an issue at the moment because it's new but there are one or two rebellious characters who he needs to get onside." He declined to say who he thought those rebels were.