The next England squad is due to be announced Thursday, March 14, and Roy Hodgson has some very tough decisions to make.
Scrutinous eyes will once again focus on the central defensive corps, eagerly anticipating either the announcement or non-announcement of Rio Ferdinand's place in the team.
According to The Mirror's report, Gary Cahill is the only fully fit central defensive option, with Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling struggling. Joleon Lescott barely plays and doesn't look match fit, so it might be a depleted pool of Ryan Shawcross, Steven Caulker and Michael Dawson for Hodgson to call on.
But Ferdinand, despite being 34 years of age, is playing well on a consistent basis and deserves to be in with a chance among fit peers, not just injured ones.
Much was made of the somewhat personal feud between Terry and Ferdinand and the subsequent "footballing reasons" statement attached to Ferdinand's snub for the Euro 2012 squad, but Hodgson has vehemently maintained his streak omitting the 81-cap defender.
But from the gaffer's perspective, you can understand the reasoning.
Bringing Ferdinand back into the fold after Terry retired would raise those eyebrows even higher—how can it be for "footballing reasons" then?
Perhaps this is a pickle that Hodgson is caught up in, and the acrimonious circumstances of Terry versus Ferdinand for a place in the Euro 2012 squad left him the villain in every possible outcome.
But this needs to be buried, because England needs Rio, and Rio wants England.
The former West Ham and Leeds United defender is enjoying one of his best seasons in a while, chalking up consecutive appearances we thought were impossible given fitness concerns and subsequently becoming the star in the absence of Nemanja Vidic.
Standout showings against Southampton, Real Madrid, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks prove he's an integral cog in Sir Alex Ferguson's machine, if he's good enough to impress Sir Alex, he's good enough for anyone.
Jamie Redknapp wrote on this very subject in The Daily Mail, stating:
I watched him and compared him to Sergio Ramos on Wednesday night and while the Spanish World Cup and European Championship winner was all over the place, Rio—and Jonny Evans—were the best two centre backs on the pitch.
They looked controlled and accomplished.
True enough, the performance at the Santiago Bernabeu was eye-opening, and on current evidence you'd be mad to suggest Ferdinand shouldn't at least be making the squad.
Concerns, for Hodgson, remain over his ability to play consecutive games, and foresight must be lent to the 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil—can Ferdinand hack it?
What's wrong with him playing every other game? Whatever happened to depth, quality and quantity at the same time and some certifiable options to choose from?
Ferdinand deserves a call-up, and if he maintains this form he should go to the World Cup. He's a leader, a fighter and a patriot, but critically, he's not as broken as many believed him to be two years ago.