Rio Ferdinand would be available to represent England should coach Roy Hodgson select the defender in light of John Terry's retirement.
Ferdinand has not played for England since a Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland in June 2011 due to a variety of reasons, however this calendar year his fitness has matched his good form, yet he was overlooked for the European Championship by Hodgson.
Hodgson claimed "football reasons" were behind the 33-year-old's omission, suggesting Ferdinand's struggles with injuries the past three years dashed his chances of playing at the tournament.
Ferdinand and Terry last played together in the former's last England appearance
But with Terry's trial for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton still yet to have occurred, many suspected Hodgson opted to choose one or the other to avoid any disharmony festering within the squad.
The Manchester United defender contradicted Hodgson after Martin Kelly, a reserve full-back at Liverpool, was selected to replace the injured Gary Cahill instead of him by tweeting "What reasons?". Hodgson told ITV Ferdinand "is not a player that you call up as a substitute, or to cover for the players that you have".
Terry's retirement, owed to the FA making his position in the national set-up "untenable", could pave the way for Ferdinand to end his international exile and add to his 81 caps.
Despite Terry's absence, tension could still linger should Ferdinand return. His friendship with Ashley Cole appears to have ended after the England full-back and Chelsea team-mate of Terry defended him at Westminster Magistrates' Court during his summer trial. Ferdinand was fined £45,000 by the Football Association in August after he appeared to endorse a tweet by another user of the social networking site which described Cole as a "choc ice".
Ferdinand's friendship with Cole appears to be over
Hodgson himself placed himself in a difficult position when took the disturbing step of stating he "hoped" Terry would be cleared by the FA, who have charged him with using "abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour" towards Anton Ferdinand.
England have a dearth of international-class defenders available now Terry, who played in two European Championships and two World Cups, has retired from representing his country.
Joleon Lescott is the only recognised centre-back to have played at a major international tournament, with only Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka the other notable defenders who can claim to be guaranteed a squad berth for October's qualifier against San Marino.
Ferdinand's club team-mates Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, despite having played in a variety of positions elsewhere, were the defensive pairing at the European Under-21 Championship last year but are both injured and will not be available for selection next month.
Manchester City's Micah Richards is another candidate, with centre-back his preferred - and arguably, best - position. However he declined to be put on standby for the summer's Euros and instead represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games, where he sustained an ankle injury and has not played since.
Full-back Kelly's season is unfortunately over too after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.
More:Roy Hodgson Rio Ferdinand Ashley Cole Choc Ice John Terry International Retirement Rio Ferdinand Roy Hodgson England Football
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