If Stephen Warnock actually makes it on to the pitch in South Africa, his first task when he comes off must be to send Leighton Baines a note of thanks.
For surely without the Evertonian’s anxiety about missing his family, a statement he made following his poor performance against Mexico last month, Warnock would not have made Fabio Capello’s final 23.
Indeed anyone who watched the Aston Villa left-back end the League Cup final with what Gary Pallister once termed ‘twisted blood’, it was a surprise he even made it into his club side for the rest of the campaign.
Warnock was turned inside out, upside down and back again by Manchester United’s Nani and Luis Antonio Valencia at Wembley, in what was an even more torrid investigation of his balance and positional sense than the one Baines received against the Central Americans two weeks ago.
Nevertheless, Capello decided the 28-year-old was the man to understudy Ashley Cole on the highest stage of them all. Whether the Italian turns to him or Matthew Upson first in the event of an injury to the Chelsea full-back is a moot point.
So if Warnock’s selection was something of a surprise the same cannot be said for team-mates James Milner and Emile Heskey.
There were those who tried to ease Heskey out of the squad, most ludicrously in favour of Darren Bent who is as much an international striker as Britain’s Got Talent is a self-fulfilling phenomenon.
Heskey is no-one’s idea of prolific but his presence and attitude allow others to flourish. England’s best chance of winning the World Cup is to bring out the best in Wayne Rooney and Heskey has more chance of doing that than almost any other striker.
Meanwhile, Milner could turn out to be the late-runner that comes from nowhere, if 46 appearances for the Under 21s can be construed as nowhere, to take the tournament by storm, much the way David Platt did in 1990 and Michael Owen eight years later.
One hopes his creativity and work-rate count more than his versatility which threatens to make the 24-year-old Capello’s preferred first bowling change, whilst also condemns him to a place on the bench.
Villa’s interest also extends to the USA’s reserve goalkeeper Brad Guzan, while Birmingham City’s sole representative is new signing Nikola Zigic of Serbia. The 6ft 8ins striker could face England in the last 16 with Nenad Milijas of Wolves.
Molineux colleague Adiene Guedioura will do just that with Algeria while Marcus Hahnemann also backs up America’s Tim Howard.
West Brom have sent Marek Cech, Chris Wood and Gonzalo Jara .