Rio Ferdinand is poised for an England recall for the first time in nearly two years, as Roy Hodgson prepares to belatedly offer the defender a return to the international fold.
The 34-year-old has repeatedly stated his desire to play again for his country and could make a return for the World Cup qualifiers in San Marino and Montenegro over the next fortnight.
Ferdinand admitted last month he would "pack his bags and go straight there" if he was recalled by Hodgson.
"I'm no different to anyone else - I love playing for England," Ferdinand added. "If I'm not then I'll keep doing what I'm doing for Manchester United."
With England faced with a paucity of quality defensive options, Ferdinand's exclusion during the Hodgson era has baffled the majority. Artisan Phil Jagielka has emerged as Hodgson's outstanding centre-back, with Gary Cahill continuing to underperform at Chelsea and Joleon Lescott relegated to fourth-choice defender at Manchester City.
Newcastle's uncapped Steven Taylor and Tottenham's Michael Dawson are other options, however Ferdinand has arguably been the outstanding English defender in the Premier League this season and his experience dwarfs all other candidates. Jagielka, Lescott, Cahill and Dawson boast just 57 caps between them compared to Ferdinand's 81.
Ferdinand has not played for England since a Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley in June 2011 and was controversially overlooked for last summer's Championship.
Hodgson has expressed his annoyance at questions regarding Ferdinand's future with the national team, while FA chairman David Bernstein described the England coach's omission of Ferdinand as a "historical, extraneous issue" during Euro 2012, after one-cap rookie Martin Kelly was called up.
Hodgson maintained Ferdinand's absence was due to "football reasons" but after Kelly's promotion Ferdinand tweeted: "What reasons?????!!!"
It has been suggested Ferdinand's age is why he has not returned to the England fold however the inclusion of 30-somethings Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard is a clear contradiction.
Hodgson said when he announced the Euros squad: "Rio has only played once for England in the last year. It was purely a footballing decision and a very hard phone call to make."
Steven Gerrard, appointed captain "on merit", had played just 33 minutess for England in 19 months at the time of that quote.
An England debutant at 19 years and eight days, Ferdinand has played at two World Cups for the Three Lions.