Fabio Capello is debating whether to plunge his England rookies into the white-hot heat of a Euro 2012 qualification battle in Sofia on Friday.
Having brought three members of Manchester United's youthful band of Premier League leaders with him to Bulgaria, Capello must now decide which he will use.
"Some are ready, some are probably a risk because they didn't play at this level in such important games with the national team," he said.
"When you play important games for your club, you know the players who play with you, their movement, where you receive the ball. Here it's different. You play with the other team-mates, but sometimes you are alone."
Phil Jones has made a massive impression since his £17million move from Manchester United, to the extent he kept Rio Ferdinand out of Sir Alex Ferguson's starting line-up for last weekend's annihilation of Arsenal, thereby costing the one-time skipper his place in Capello's squad.
He has trained alongside skipper John Terry for much of this week, further fuelling a belief Capello was about to choose the Chorley-born teenager. The last training session pointed towards Gary Cahill though, the defender who remains at Bolton, who refused to entertain Tottenham's deadline-day bid.
Chris Smalling has had 12 months' start. Even so, the 21-year-old, who is facing competition from Micah Richards and Phil Jagielka for the right-back role, has stunned Capello with the manner of his transition from central defence, which started during last month's Community Shield.
"He could," was Capello's reaction when asked if Smalling, less than three-and-a-half years after leaving non-league Maidstone, was capable of starting a competitive game for England
"He surprised me when he played at Wembley in the Community Shield against Manchester City," continued the Italian. "He played well. In fact, the four games that he's played at right-back, he's played really well.
"I always saw him play in central defence before. He is playing with confidence. He has improved and improved."
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