Rio Ferdinand will travel to Barcelona for England's World Cup opener with Andorra despite missing training for the second day running.
The Manchester United defender has been suffering from a stiff back and will be assessed again on Friday. However, coach Fabio Capello is quite relaxed about the situation and the mere fact his vice-captain will accompany the team on the first part of their double-header suggests Ferdinand will be involved.
Matthew Upson and Joleon Lescott are in Capello's 23-man squad should the Italian require a replacement to partner John Terry, while Wes Brown also has plenty of experience at centre-half.
The only absentee from training at London Colney on Thursday was Joe Cole, who is tipped to be handed the left-sided midfield spot as Steven Gerrard has been ruled out through injury.
Cole received a knock on his calf and will also be assessed.
Like Ferdinand, the Chelsea midfielder will travel to Barcelona as England look to get their qualification campaign off to a winning start ahead of Wednesday's key encounter with Croatia, whose coach Slaven Bilic continues to be linked with the manager's position at West Ham made vacant by Alan Curbishley's shock resignation on Thursday.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.