With 167 days until the Brazil 2014 World Cup, the buzz surrounding the tournament is beginning to get louder.
This week, we look at news out of the England, Argentina and Germany camps, as well as an announcement from FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, regarding some extra assistance for referees.
Here's the latest World Cup gossip, with fewer than 24 weeks to go until the first match kicks off.
There is no better place for a footballer in the year leading up to a World Cup than at an in-form club.
Liverpool are one of the form teams of the English Premier League, having topped the table at Christmas time, and many of the players in the squad will be eyeing off places in their respective national team squads.
Luis Suarez is in sensational form, which should worry England supporters as their side must play Uruguay next year. They can take heart, however, at the re-emergence of Raheem Sterling, who after picking up one England cap back in 2012, suffered a series of injuries and a dip in form.
Sterling appears to be back to his best, though, having started Liverpool's last six matches.
Before their clash with Manchester City, club coach Brendan Rogers speculated that the 19-year-old could yet force his way into the England set-up in time for Brazil 2014.
As George Ankers reports on goal.com, Rogers recently called for Sterling to be considered for the national team:
'He's got every opportunity of getting in the World Cup squad—he was able to showcase his talents in the last few weeks, so every opportunity,' Rodgers told reporters of Sterling.
'He's done very well for the Under-21s when he's played. I think, if you look at a number of the English players playing for us, there was Jordan Henderson and the level of his game at the weekend, the likes of Raheem…
I think this is a place where the young players are growing and developing and that will benefit England and Liverpool as well.
Raheem has shown he is back now. He's had five games on the spin [in which] he has shown he is back to that level where he is really aggressive and direct.'
Vanishing spray will be added to referees' tool kits at the 2014 World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter confirmed this week, as reported on fifa.com.
The spray, which was developed in Argentina, is used to mark the spot from which a free-kick is to be taken, as well as the minimum distance back that the defensive wall has to stand.
The white markings left by the spray then fade away entirely within about 60 seconds.
It has been utilized for several years in South American competitions and has largely solved the problem of encroaching walls, making the referee's job easier.
One of the great German players of the current generation, Bastian Schweinsteiger, says he will be fully fit and ready to participate in Brazil next year.
The 100-game veteran has been out of action since November with an ankle injury, but told SID that he would be recovered by the time the World Cup rolls around, per goal.com's Myfanwy Garman:
I have not had a moment's concern about missing the World Cup.
It's annoying that I can't play, but I have to look after my body. It's not the first time [I've been injured].
Light jogging is possible now, but no ball work. It'll take a while yet, but I am working harder in training than when I was fit.
Argentine fan favourite Carlos Tevez is resigned to the fact that he won't be making an appearance at Brazil 2014, according to some recent comments from the Juventus striker.
Tevez has never been called up by current Argentina coach, Alejandro Sabella, which would indicate he has virtually no chance of making the Albiceleste squad next year.
Often referred to as "the player of the people" in his homeland, Tevez said it would be too painful for him to watch Argentina's matches at the tournament, but also called for fans to stop pressuring the national team manager for his inclusion.
Sabella's preferred attacking trident consists of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, with the likes of Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Lavezzi playing support roles from the bench.
Tevez told Radio La Red, as reported by espnfc.com, that he did not want Sabella to be targeted for not calling him up:
I have no problems with the group and I get on great with Messi. I don't lose sleep over the World Cup. I don't think I will watch it because it hurts me to see the national team, it's bad for me.
If Sabella hasn't called me up, I'm not going to phone him to find out why he doesn't pick me.
Sabella must not be asked to call me up... Let him work in peace because it's not easy for Sabella not to call me. I know there's a lot of pressure especially from fans.