The England XI who will start against Ecuador is set to be a much-changed side from that which faced Peru at Wembley, with Manchester City’s James Milner set to get the nod at right-back.
It could well be an inspired decision by Roy Hodgson, whose charges are 17/20 for victory at the Sun Life Stadium, with the draw 12/5 and a win for the men from the Andes a 16/5 chance.
Arsenal and Liverpool have both been credited with an interest in the two-time Premier League-winning midfielder, but it’s unlikely that either had thought about him as a potential right-back.
Yet with Bacary Sagna in transition from Gunner to goner and Glen Johnson unlikely to earn a new deal next summer, both sides are in the market for a diligent, tactically savvy operative in the position.
For the Three Lions moving Milner to right-back makes so much sense that it’s unbelievable it hasn’t been trialled before.
Johnson and Kyle Walker can both be characterised as defensively susceptible full-backs whose continued England selections are as a result of the attacking impetus they provide.
Both men make the rearguarding diligence of any right-sided attacker stationed ahead of them a cause for concern.
However, alternatives in the position Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are too lumpen to supercede them in an attacking sense, for all their superiority in terms of defensive probity.
It’s a conundrum cracked by the conversion of Milner, who offers the best of both worlds.
In the underrated Yorkshireman an uncommon ball-winning diligence and willingness to subjugate himself to the tactical needs of his team are allied with attacking awareness and creative nous enough to create 12 goals for Aston Villa from a central midfield berth in 2009/10.
The former Villa, Newcastle and Leeds stalwart’s performance at right-back could have far reaching ramifications not only for England, but for his current employers as well as his prospective summer window suitors.