International Football: Who Should Roy Hodgson Name as Captain for England?
Barely had Roy Hodgson sat down to take his first press conference as England manager before he was asked about the issue which saw his predecessor quit the job.
The FA's decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy in February over Fabio Capello's head led to the Italian coach resigning, although it is likely that the matter was simply the last straw for a man who had clearly had enough of his first—and likely only—international role.
Terry will again be taken out of consideration for Hodgson due to the Chelsea defender's upcoming trial for alleged racial abuse of QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, brother of his long-time England colleague Rio, who has ruled himself out of taking the role again. Striker Wayne Rooney may not have been high on anyone's shortlist, but his suspension for the first two matches of this summer's European Championships surely excludes him too.
However, there are still several players in the frame who Hodgson could give the armband to with just two warm-up matches to go before the Euro 2012 campaign kicks off against France on June 11.
Here are the main candidates to take the captaincy for England under Hodgson. Share your thoughts on who you think it should be below.
Hart has been an England regular for less than two years, but he is unquestionably England's No.1 going into Euro 2012.
The Manchester City goalkeeper has forged a reputation as one of the best in his position—not just in the Premier League, but on the international stage as well.
At just 25 years old, Hart is a commanding presence in his area, unafraid of letting his more experienced teammates cop an earful when necessary.
He is also arguably the player in the England setup whose position is the most secure, a vital factor when choosing a captain.
If Hart is given the armband now, he could have it for the duration of Hodgson's contract and beyond.
Most of the other major footballing nations decide who the captain of their national team is simply be either giving the armband to the player with the most caps or who is the oldest.
Not so for the English, who seem to bestow a whole other range of unquantifiable requirements in their skipper.
Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole is England's most experienced player having won 93 caps and appeared in each of the squad's last four tournament appearances.
However, despite being arguably the most consistent player England have had over the past decade, and being among the world's best in his position, he is a deeply unpopular personality amongst a large section of the British public.
The notion that someone like Roy Hodgson would hand Cole the armband is almost inconceivable.
Hot on the heels of his teammate Cole as one of the most experienced players available to Hodgson, Lampard has represented his country 90 times to date.
He has shown this season why former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas' attempt to make him less of a central figure for the London club proved such a fatal move for the Portuguese coach—since Roberto Di Matteo's installment in the Stamford Bridge dugout, Lampard has been one of their star performers.
Charming and well-spoken in front of the media, Lampard is also popular with most fans who can see past club rivalry on the international stage, thanks in part to his 23 England goals.
However, Lampard is 33 years old now, and having been passed up for the honour of the captaincy on a permanent basis several times before, it is unlikely he will get it now.
Gerrard was third choice to lead England out as captain at the 2010 World Cup but, after Terry was stripped of the armband and Rio Ferdinand missed the tournament through injury, the Liverpool skipper did so with distinction.
He was one of, if not the best player for England in South Africa, though considering the insipid showing of Fabio Capello's squad at that tournament, such a feat was not too difficult.
The 31-year-old has been accused in the past of saving his best performances for his beloved Liverpool, but he remains a highly influential presence for the national team, racking up 90 caps to date.
It remains to be seen if the fact that he played under Hodgson during his disastrous spell in charge at Anfield will or won't count against him.
Despite being 31, the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has only represented his country 11 times at senior level. However, the last of those appearances was as captain, as caretaker manager Stuart Pearce gave him the honour for the recent 3-2 friendly defeat against the Netherlands at Wembley.
Parker's commanding and assured presence in midfield won him the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award last season, and his recent problems with fitness have been a key factor in Spurs' recent struggles.
Universally liked by players, media and fans, Parker always gives on the field and has proven himself capable of performing against any opposition, and the fact that Jack Wilshere has been ruled out of Euro 2012 through injury should confirm him as a guaranteed starter in Poland and Ukraine this summer.