Sam Allardyce has confirmed that he will name his England captain on Wednesday.
The new manager made the delcaration as he prepares to name his first international squad ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.
While there is a strong possibility that incumbent Wayne Rooney will be kept on in the role, Allardyce’s surprisingly non-committal stance on the matter has added to speculation that maybe he has a new man in mind to lead the Three Lions.
In a generation where there are not too many leaders in that squad, finding one suitable candidate – never mind five – is something of a tall order.
Nonetheless, here are five candidates who appear to be the best qualified for the role.
The current captain, but does he even merit a place in the team at this stage? Installed as captain following Steven Gerrard’s retirement in 2014, Rooney has overseen a period where England won all ten of their qualifying games for Euro 2016, only to have a dismal time of it in the tournament itself.
None of that was necessarily his fault as a captain, but as a player his role in the team has to be called into question, particularly as there are players in far better form than him.
Still the most likely to be handed the role at this point in time, but is he now just the best of a bad lot?
Currently the second-best of a bad lot, Cahill is the vice-captain behind Rooney in the England team. In fact, he has captained the side in Rooney’s absence before, so he at least has experience of what the role entails.
However, Allardyce’s preference seems to be leaning towards an increased role in the team for Manchesrer City’s John Stones, which spells trouble for the 30-year-old. Stones and Chris Smalling are the wave of the future, leaving the likes of Cahill playing second-fiddle.
Still a contender, and the second favourite with most bookmakers, but will do well to even get in the team never mind be its captain.
Not an obvious choice, but perhaps the best one.
The 26-year-old is one of the few players guaranteed his place in the team as long as he keeps playing regularly for Manchester United, and centre backs are usually seen as the ideal candidate for a captain.
Smalling has already led the side once, in the 2-1 win against Australia at the Stadium of Light earlier in a pre-Euro 2016 warm-up, and if he has convinced Allardyce that he is capable of taking charge of his defence then the former Sunderland manager might hand him the armband.
Seems to have all the mental characteristics to be a future England captain, and his time may come sooner than expected.
Already acts like the leader of this England team, and that’s not a good thing.
Hart has a serious tendency to go overboard, and thinks that screaming and leadership are the same thing…
Allardyce has already had to assure Hart of his role in the England squad despite Pep Guardiola committing an act of national treachery by daring to drop him at Man City. The loan move he will get before the window closes (presumably to Everton) will ensure that he continues as England’s number one, but he simply lacks the mental attributes to be considered a suitable candidate to lead this team.
Just because Hart appears in shampoo adverts with Manuel Neuer doesn’t mean he’s at that level…
As captain of Liverpool, Henderson already understands the pressure of leading a team with massive expectations.
However, he is another whose role in the international starting lineup could quite easily be called into question. The 26-year-old is not a universally popular captain at Anfield amongst the club’s fans, with many believing that he is too injury prone or simply not charismatic enough to be a consistent force of leadership in the dressing room.
The odds have him in as as likely to get the armband as Jack Wilshere, which speaks volumes. An honest and likeable player, but an international captain he is not.
The nuclear option.
Terry is highly unlikely to get the armband, but Big Sam’s recent assertion that Terry could make an international comeback, which would be his first time anywhere near the England squad since his banishment four years ago, does seem rather timely.
The big question here though is, has enough time passed since Terry’s racism row with Rio and Anton Ferdinand (which led to Rio being excluded from Roy Hodgon’s Euro 2012 squad) for his inclusion to not be an issue?
Moreover, can a player who attracts controversy everywhere he goes still be respected enough to lead this team?
These are questions for Allardyce to ponder before Wednesday’s captaincy announcement, as well as his first full squad reveal on Sunday.
Terry divisiveness would surely be too much of a preventative barrier for him to ever be named England captain again. Allardyce might not be afraid to rock the boat but that will almost certainly be a step too far even for him.