Rio Ferdinand was able to take some part in England training on Tuesday morning, fuelling a belief that he will be fit for Wednesday's key World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley.
The Manchester United defender has been feeling a slight aggravation in a back problem that ruled him out for a month earlier this season.
But after been left out of Saturday's friendly win over Slovakia as a precaution, Ferdinand managed some light training and was at Arsenal's London Colney complex on Tuesday as England were put through their paces by coach Fabio Capello.
If Ferdinand is fit it would allow him to line up alongside skipper John Terry in central defence for the first time since the September victory over Croatia, since when Matthew Upson has been a stand-in for one or the other in four of the last five games, with Phil Jagielka getting his debut in last month's defeat to Spain.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, who also missed Saturday's game, was able to train after an ankle injury, while Peter Crouch, who is expected to be handed the role of lone striker in the absence of Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole after they withdrew over the weekend, also shrugged off a minor knock.
Prior to training Wayne Rooney collected the England Player of the Year award for 2008, although he will be more interested in maintaining a fabulous scoring record of seven goals in his last four internationals as he wins his 50th cap.
With four successive wins in their Group Six campaign already, England know victory against the Ukraine, the only side they have yet to face, would see them put one foot into next year's finals in South Africa only halfway through their fixtures.
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