Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer claims England's success under Fabio Capello will do wonders for their 2018 World Cup bid.
Beckenbauer, one of the 24 FIFA top brass who will decide on the 2018 hosts, now rates England as having "a great chance" - especially as under Capello the national side have shaken off the embarrassment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008.
Speaking after FIFA's executive committee delayed a final decision on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments until December, Beckenbauer said: "England will have a great chance for 2018 because if it is going to come to Europe, which is my feeling for how it will go, then England will be in a very strong position."
He added: "They have the best club football, the best infrastructure, and they have the fans.
"The national team did not perform so well when they failed to make Euro 2008 but they are back on track now under Fabio Capello in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, and that is important."
FIFA president Sepp Blatter insisted executive members had agreed in principle that the 2018 and 2022 tournaments should be voted on at the same time, in 2011.
He told a news conference in Zurich: "A proposal was made that we should decide the 2018 and 2022 World Cups together so that we can offer a package and give the organisations and governments the necessary time to prepare.
"The executive committee was in agreement, there was a positive reaction to this general idea, but three or four members asked to postpone the final decision for several weeks to look at not only the advantages but some inconveniences that may happen.
"The principle has been accepted however."
The delay means that England's detailed plans for their campaign remain somewhat in limbo. It would certainly be a blow to their hopes if only the 2018 tournament went to a vote in 2011 because it would probably mean USA, potentially major rivals, entering the race.
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