Neville eyes milestone
Gary Neville is on the verge of becoming England's most-capped full-back after being handed a surprise call-up by Fabio Capello for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra.
Manchester United star Neville will compete with Portsmouth's Glen Johnson for the right-back slot in Capello's team despite spending most of the season on the sidelines at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to play Neville in Sunday's win at Hull, where the United boss fielded a mostly reserve team, showed the veteran is no longer regarded as a first choice.
And the 34-year-old, who made his last appearance for England against Spain in 2007, must have feared his international career was over after an injury-ravaged last two years.
But, just like his long-time friend David Beckham, Neville has been deemed worthy of a recall.
And, if he is picked for either match in next month's World Cup double-header against Kazakhstan and Andorra, he will equal Kenny Sansom's record for a full-back of 86 caps and would take sole possession of the record with appearances in both matches.
Indeed, as Capello would not have picked Neville if he did not believe he could make a meaningful contribution beyond two matches England should win to take maximum points from their first seven matches in Group Six, the 34-year-old could well end up getting somewhere close to the century mark before he does eventually call a halt to his international career.
That Capello chose to draft in someone with so much experience suggests the time for untested rookies to be utilised before the World Cup finals themselves in South Africa next summer is drawing to a close.
Manchester City are represented in the form of Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was supposed to have been ruled out with a knee injury, only for Blues boss Mark Hughes to discover the problem was not so bad after all.
Jermain Defoe returns after a three-match absence, while Theo Walcott is fit for international duty after dislocating his shoulder in training prior to the friendly win over Germany in Berlin last November.
It is the goalkeeping department where Capello has most to worry about, although even here he has gone for the tried and tested as first and second choices David James and Ben Foster have been ruled out with shoulder and thumb injuries respectively.
West Ham's Robert Green has emerged as first-choice despite winning just two caps, both as a second-half substitute in friendly matches.
And with Joe Hart ruled out on form grounds after losing his place at Manchester City to Shay Given, Paul Robinson, who won the last of his 41 caps in the catastrophic European Championship defeat in Russia in October 2005, is recalled along with Scott Carson, who has just been relegated with West Brom.
Goalkeepers: Scott Carson (West Brom), Robert Green (West Ham), Paul Robinson (Blackburn)
Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Man City), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), Joleon Lescott (Everton), Gary Neville (Man Utd), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham)
Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), David Beckham (LA Galaxy, on loan at AC Milan), Michael Carrick (Man Utd), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Man City), Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Strikers: Carlton Cole (West Ham), Peter Crouch (Portsmouth), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Man Utd), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd)